Tuesday 26 May 2015

And so it goes, both ASLEF and RMT have announced they will be holding strike ballots after management declared that there would be no pay rise at all unless we accepted Night Tube.  Rather than negotiating management have invited the unions to attend “workshops” where they can discuss how to implement the Night Tube rosters and unsurprisingly the unions have told them where to stick their “workshops”.  Unless management are struck by a Damascene conversion then sometime in the next few weeks an envelope containing a ballot paper will come through my letter box, I will duly put my X in the “yes” box and there will be a strike or two.  Sadly I have to conclude that either a) management actually want a strike or b) they really believe that we’re going to accept this deal.  So which is it, duplicitous or deranged?

Saturday 16 May 2015

All quiet on the pay talks/Night Tube front with absolutely no movement from either side since LUL slightly upped their offer a month ago.  On the issue of pay they are sticking to the line that we’ve had above inflation pay rises while others have had pay freezes but in that respect we are no different to our fellow ASLEF members working for the mainline TOCs.   You could argue that they are private sector while we are public sector but the amount of taxpayers’ money pumped into the TOCs makes any difference between us and them debatable.

On Night Tube they are offering us far less to permanently change our agreements in order to run 24 hours twice a week than they did to temporarily run an hour or two later during the Olympics. LUL did suggest getting ACAS involved but the unions didn’t see the point of simply changing the venue, the offer is derisory and if our union reps were to recommend accepting the deal as it stands the members would reject it.

As far as staffing goes we are still being told that at some point in the future depots will get to choose either part-timers or “fixed links” but as that isn't going to be possible to arrange by September we will have Friday and Saturday night shifts tacked onto the end of a week of dead lates every 10-12 weeks in the roster.  While they say this will only be a temporary measure the suspicion among TOps is that this will become a permanent fixture.  From listening to talk around the mess room these night shifts are already highly unpopular, no one is going to want to swap those weeks and some people who currently work earlies are going to be stuck with them which won’t help if your household arrangements are based around a set work pattern.

Needless to say there are several theories floating around to explain LUL’s intransigence, a popular one is that management were waiting to see who won the election in the hope that the Tories would stay in power and bring in a change to the law regarding strike ballots or even make strikes on the Tube illegal.  While it sounds plausible I somehow suspect that Cameron & Co have far more pressing matters to deal with than a bit of trouble on the Tube and the same applies to the idea that management are trying to provoke a strike in order to get legislation pushed through.

Another explanation is that having seen off RMT and TSSA over “ticket office closures” with comparative ease management are brimming with confidence and think that they can steamroller TOps just as easily.  If that is the case then they weren’t paying attention last summer when the ASLEF strike effectively closed the Central Line, spread that to the whole combine, throw in a joint strike with RMT who are itching to get some pay back and there would be no service at all.

As I mentioned in a previous post there’s also a suggestion that LUL have been given a strict budget and are being told from above that they can’t offer us any more than they are; they are simply obeying orders.  A final possibility doing the rounds is that LUL don’t want Night Tube and are going through the motions in order to placate Boris ahead of his imminent departure.  They have deliberately made an offer the unions cannot accept in order to stall things so when the start date rolls around they can blame us for the failure and wash their hands of the whole sorry affair.

Whatever the explanation the talks drag on, we get no closer to settling things, Friday 11th September is now less than four months away and should LUL try to impose the new timetable upon us without an agreement in place then a strike will be unavoidable.  While we don’t want to go on strike we know we will win this one, if LUL really want Night Tube then they are going to have to make us a reasonable offer sometime between now and the beginning of August, in the meantime let’s hope we have a nice summer before it all kicks off.