Saturday 26 September 2015

At the risk of using a railway metaphor the talks on pay and Night Tube seem to have hit the buffers.  According to both unions management have adopted the tactic of discussing everything but agreeing to nothing, they are prepared to consider changes to our terms and conditions but not to actually commit themselves.  At the same time they are not prepared to discuss the pay deal as a separate issue which means that unless we agree to sign a blank cheque on Night Tube there will be no pay rise this year.

For their part management continue to put out memos repeating the mantra that they want the pay deal to be affordable and fair while emphasising that other worker haven’t had a pay rise but failing to acknowledge that in the railway industry above inflation pay rises are the norm in both private and public sectors.  Both unions are now consulting with the reps and the branches to decide what if anything to do next but frankly I don’t think management care what we do, the passengers and workers can rot so long as their extremely well paid jobs are safe.

And how safe are they?  On Thursday Mike Brown was enthroned as Peter Hendy’s permanent replacement as Transport Commissioner having stepped into the role in a temporary capacity three months ago.  His new job comes with a basic salary of £354k plus a £178k performance bonus which I’ve no doubt he will be judged to have warranted.  To counter suggestions that perhaps this was over generous Boris insists that it you want the best you have to pay for it although it would be interesting to know who else, if anyone, was considered for the job.

Mike Brown joined LU in 1989, worked his way up the greasy pole until he became Chief Operating Officer but further progress was blocked when Ken appointed an outsider, Tim O’Toole, as Managing Director.  His ambitions thwarted Brown deserted LU to run Heathrow Airport in 2008 but when O’Toole quit “to spend more time with his family” less than a year after Boris became Mayor the path was open again.  Brown replaced the Transatlantic usurper and added the title of MD of London Rail, the body that oversees all TfL train/tram operations, shortly after his return to the fold.  Finally he has succeeded to the ultimate London transport throne, living proof that persistence has its rewards.

All hail our new Dark Overlord!


  1. I for one, welcome our new dark overlord!

    On a serious point, could night tube be delayed until Boris leaves?

  2. Could have ended up with a much darker Dark Overlord.

  3. I can't move at work now for endless positive PR pieces about "how everyone loves the changes" and "staff are feeling empowered" It's like working in a cult

  4. I would love to know if any staff member has changed their opinion after seeing such PR pieces.

    Typical new-age MBA drenched detached bumbling incompetent management corporate mentality:

    Plan changes; even for things that are working brilliantly. Looks good for careers and CV!

    Ask staff for suggestions/issues to show you care
    Ignore all staff recommendations to improve service
    Impose all changes staff have told you won't work; Do not discuss just allow Q and A's
    Promote change and use PR

    Change arrives

    Things mess up; some out of anyone's control but many things screw up exactly the way staff stated certain things wouldn't work
    Eventually adopt staff recommendations but re-brand these as something else.
    Ignore wasted money lost to changes that didn't work.

    Collect implementation bonus as a Senior Manager.
    Achieve promotion.

    Move on.

    Possibly get honours/awards/knighthood

    And.... a consultant for another company.

    1. Indeed, the Fit for Future website is a textbook example of management twaddle. Any dissenting voice is ignored whilst endless positive fluff pieces are shoveled out.

      I'm an adult, I can roll with the punches and accept changes but Please stop telling me how much I love the changes. I've been demoted, lost my location and my future career is fucked for the next couple of years. Also why is impossible to get rid of incompetent managers at London underground? They pop up, make a complete mess of something and somehow get promoted? I wouldn't trust some of our managers to run a bath.

    2. The keyword there is "competence". Competence based interviewing is just people lying about stuff they SAY they have done. There is very little an interviewer can do to ascertain what is fact or fiction. Indeed the interviewer is only looking to "tick boxes" with regards to situations, tasks, actions and results (STAR). NOT if anything is actually true or real.
      This one time at Band Camp, I was walking in the camp gardens. The situation was I found an unattended trumpet. I made it my task to reunite it with its owner. My action was to shout loudly for the owner to come hither and claim their belongings. No one did. I deduced that this was because my voice was not carrying in the densely wooded gardens. I needed to make a loud noise to get peoples attention. The answer was there in front of me all the time duh. Use the shrill musical item! So my action was to use the trumpet. I blew and I blew and I blew. I blew my own trumpet all day long and to anyone who would listen. Constantly just blowing my own trumpet. Endlessly blowing my own trumpet to all and sundry. Result. The band geek girl from American Pie turned up to reclaim her trumpet. She was grateful and rewarded me by showing me how to put air into an organ. That was an was an eye opener, I can tell you!
      True story. Honest, Guv.
      Of course once the person get their managers job, they then just KEEP lying to cover their arses and promote themselves from there on.

  5. You're right.

    It's the insane myopic view of modern senior management;
    Management is key for them, therefore poor management can only be solved by more management.

    Rinse and repeat.

    There is little holisitic or hardly any cohesive long-term big picture thinking input akin to German or Scandinavian industry that has a more collaborative aspect in dealing with workforce and management.

    TFL's recent approach is eerily similiar to my friends' experiences in the NHS that had the misfortune of being bludgeoned by Atlantic-Management based theories to improve things. Complete with wll the things you guys have already mentioned, big senior pay, incompetence rewarded resulting in dire frontline services, stressed frontline employees and chronic short term solutions with no long term vision or responsiveness to suggestions from staff that have to implement these blu-sky thik tank session schemes.

    We'll be alright though. I just know it. TFL's smiling employee on their web page told me as much. LU COO says he'll look after us.

    Be nice to see what the TFL board think? Oh, thats right, I hear they're only meet a few days a year.

  6. Incidentally, i cannot see Euston and Victoria T.Offices remaining closed over the next few years.

    It's been absolute chaos for passengers ("customers") and staff alike.


    1. Surely not! I have loads of pictures sent sent to my e-mail about how everyone loves the new Visitor centres and none of our customers even remember what a ticket office is, What Joy what larks!

  7. See also:

    I've heard M Brown speak ... yet again. I get the impression that at least SOME of the people right at the top of LU are competent, but a huge number of the next two levels down haven't a clue as to even where their own arsehole is!
    Why this obvious disconnect occurs beats me completely

    1. Introducing too many new senior people from outside who haven't got the feel/culture of the place getting pitched into a very difficult change programme is, in my view , the root of the disconnect. Too many is, in numbers, about 6 people, no more.

  8. Someone thoughtful and articulate from your grade needs to sit down with the rule book, exam questions and manuals and explain to Nick Farrari why Tube drivers cannot be 'trained in a day'. Perhaps also why the Tube cannot be automated and that such as the DLR isn't fully automated either.

    He thinks that £55k in London is too much and would prefer 'bright young Syrians' to be doing your job at half the price.

    The injustice is not that Tube drivers are paid too much but that other jobs have not kept pace with the London cost of living. In fact you'd need an 8x Tube driver's salary mortgage to afford a modest terrace in an outer London area.

    That said - I think you're going to lose in the end.

    An unprecedented surfeit of cheap and willing labour in Britain will overcome any union protectionism and the clamour for as much automation on the Tube as possible is loud.

    You've flown a little too far above the radar, I'm afraid.