Monday 2 July 2012

Just a quick note to say that very little happened last week and I am now off until Sunday 15th. I was meant to have two weeks in August but someone with kids asked me to swap and I’d rather avoid being off work when the schools are out. Despite the influx of new TOps we still had duties uncovered last week and I ended up covering a whole turn when spare. The Olympics are going to be fun.

On the industrial action front the planned strike by ASLEF TOps on the Piccadilly was called off after negotiations but the RMT strike at the Piccadilly Line control room is still on the cards. I don’t have any details of what the grievance is other than they aren’t happy with the move from their current location at Earl’s Court to a new place at Hammersmith.

Meanwhile the bus operators and Unite will meet at ACAS today to try and sort out the bonus issue but I doubt if the bus drivers attitude will have softened seeing as staff working for SERCO on the Boris Bikes have just been given an Olympic bonus. Unite did offer to meet last week but the bus operators declined the invitation though Stagecoach, who run a lot of routes in and around Stratford, broke ranks and made an offer, as yet no news as to what it was or if it was accepted by the drivers.

Stagecoach was founded by Brian Souter and his sister Ann Gloag, both deeply committed Christians who donate large amounts to the SNP and are famously anti-union. Trawling through Private Eye I spotted that the church sister Ann attends when staying at one of her two castles needs £50k to repair the roof. She made £37m last year and could easily have spared the cash but instead she coughed up £30k and left the other parishioners, who probably didn't make quite as much last year, to find the remaining £20k.

Apparently charity begins at home, not at your second home. Grease up that camel…….


  1. "I ended up covering a whole turn when spare."

    It's not as if you're not being paid for it...

    1. Now think, why could it possibly be interesting that there are unfilled slots on the tube drivers' schedule? If your only answer is to do with what tube drivers get paid for, think harder.

    2. Original Anonymous here:

      Obviously, yes, it's so that when a driver doesn't turn up their duty can be completed by someone else

      Would it not be more efficient to have all drivers always booked to be on duty? Should one not turn up, 8 hours of labour is lost, just as at present. No one is ever sat around doing nothing. Of course, if one duty is more important than the rest, someone can be pulled off another

    3. Keep trying to think. If a driver doesn’t turn up and there are no spares who is going to drive the train they are meant to be picking up, relieving the driver already on it? You can’t just leave the train there blocking the line.

      That train is now cancelled, the driver waiting to be relieved has to take it to the nearest sidings and then get back, if they are on their meal break that means they could be late for their next pick up, if they are finishing they have to be paid overtime.

      Now that train is cancelled the driver who was due to relieve the driver who failed to show up will have no train and will have to travel to the nearest sidings where before being able to start.

      That is why we have spares.

    4. The problem some people may have with 'I had to cover a whole turn while spare' could be that : compared with bus drivers, tube operaters are much better treated. It's common for spare people to be sent home early or to be used so someone else can go home early. This doesnt happen on the buses. Spare or standby means you are made to sit there for the full time if you don't get a job and if you do get a job it might take you over your hours.

  2. There are many reasons why a driver might not show up - injury, illness, traffic, family issues, service delays on other transport (many drivers will use the Underground to get to work), etc, not all within the driver's control. These are not restricted to the start of shifts either.

    Spares also help when the service goes up the wall and you need to reform the service and relieve drivers stuck out on the line after they've exceeded their driving hours, etc.

    If everything always went as planned then you wouldn't need spares, but this is real life and things don't go to plan. I'd much rather pay people, in many walks of life, to sit around and do nothing much of the time so that they were available near instantly when there is a sudden increase in demand. Hospitals for example would run much better in times of crisis if they were staffed for the resources required at such times rather than just the typical workload. It's similar to the way tube drivers are overpaid for the task of getting a train from A to B when everything is going well - we're paying them for the knowledge they have that enables them to deal with times when it isn't going well and they have to get a broken train with several hundred passengers on moving again, sometimes without them even realising there was a problem.

  3. The other thing that spares do is take over from TOps involved in “one unders”, a lot of who are in no fit state to drive a train.