Thursday 26 March 2015

Yesterday ASLEF’s Finn Brennan described negotiations as “a bit like the first half of a duty at Edgware Road, 4 hours of going round in circles!”  So things are not going well and what does LUL do when they can’t get their way?  They turn to their sympathetic friends at the Evening Delevingne who helpfully provided their usual anti-union hatchet job, resurrecting ASLEF’s wish list from December and presenting it as our current “demands”.  Even then they couldn’t get it right, claiming we’d asked for the £500 lump sum payment that LUL are offering for Night Tube but that didn’t stop ITV, the Mirror and others repeating it all as fact.

No mention that it was LUL who insisted on combining our latest pay deal with Night Tube which the unions had wanted to discuss separately, no mention that our current agreement is only three days of 24 hour working per year, no mention that in order to have enough staff we should have started training new TOps in January and no mention that over a week ago ASLEF offered fresh proposals for working Night Tube:-

- Additional rest days off on weeks following the working of nights on Friday and Saturday; a real reduction in the average working week.

- Additional shift enhancements for working Night Tube on Friday and Saturday

- A freeze on weekend working for existing train operators, following the introduction of Night Tube with an agreement to a reduction

- A recruitment process for new train operators; to alleviate the increase in unsocial weekend working for existing train operators

- A process for existing train operators to work 1, 2 or 3 days less per week

- A consolidated lump sum payment for all train operators for fundamental changes in terms, conditions and agreements.

These are proposals not demands, they are open for negotiation, concepts that LUL management and their right wing friends seem unable or simply unwilling to comprehend.  One thing to bear in mind is that when we agreed to temporarily run trains later during the Olympics LUL offered us the same £500 one-off lump sum they are now offering to permanently run overnight two nights every week.

Monday 9 March 2015

And so the great non-strike of March 2015 passed by without anyone noticing, if there is no further action then many trees will have died in vain.  The only thing of note was the presence of a pair of senior managers at LES who just happened to show up on a Saturday night where all the night duties pick up their trains.  While they tried painfully hard to cultivate an air of nonchalance they bore a striking resemblance to a couple of fathers outside the maternity ward, I was half expecting them to break out the cigars if everyone turned up.

Ironically the D&A testers turned up at LES on Sunday, the first time I can remember them ever doing a check other than M-F 9-5 and perhaps that is why things didn’t go quite as they should.  Apparently one of the TOps selected only took the breath test before someone realised that there was no one available to take their train and they were put back on duty before giving a urine sample.  So while they might have been stoned out of their mind, coked up to the eyeballs or otherwise sorted for Es and Whizz at least they weren’t drunk.  Which is nice…….

Wednesday 4 March 2015

So after the pointless preamble that wasted a month or so LUL have finally made their opening offer; a 2-year deal with 0.5% this year and RPI next year plus a one-off £500 payment for Night Tube.  That £500 would be divided into two, the first £250 being paid if everything is agreed by June so that things can go smoothly in September and the second £250 paid in January if everything goes according to plan.   Talks will resume today, providing the unions have stopped laughing by then……

Along with that LUL gave us an idea of how they intend to staff Night Tube on the train side.  The depots would be given a choice of either part-time TOps working the extra night shifts or “fixed links” which I assume means adding the extra night shifts into our existing roster.  Now on the face of it seems like a nice offer, we all vote for “part-timers” and get £500 for doing nothing but that ignores a couple of important points.

Firstly the obvious problem with the part-time TOps idea is we only have six months.  It takes 3-4 months to train a TOp but before that LUL has to advertise the position, sort through the applications then have the applicants go through the entry exam, interview, medical and police background check.  Even if we were to agree to the deal today I doubt if there is enough time left to have things ready by September so for an initial period Night Tube would need the existing TOps to fill in.

In addition to that recruiting TOps straight off the street doesn’t work, LUL tried it back when I was on stations.  From the thousands of applicants only a few made it through the selection process and of those most only got as far as the CSA stage with a mere handful making it through to TOp.   That was for full time TOps on full time salaries, I doubt if it would be any more successful attracting part timers on a reduced salary.

So even though LUL has offered us a choice it seems to me that the extra night shifts will in all likelihood end up being included in our roster, making the conditional £500 one-off payment seem a little insulting.  Stay tuned, folks, it should get interesting.