Thursday 29 October 2015

Yesterday's editorial in the Evening Standard plumbed a new depth of stupidity and ignorance by claiming that "The DLR is indeed something of an oddity, since it is in fact driverless, but union pressure means every train must employ a “captain” on board."  Okay. just stop and think about that; its 1986 or there about, the London Docklands Development Corporation is near to completing its new driverless railway when the National Union of Railwaymen demands that there be a human presence on the trains (all eleven of them).   Despite the fact that the NUR has very few or possibly no members on the DLR at that stage the LDDC accepts the demand, creates unnecessary jobs and hey presto when the DLR opens in summer 1987 every train has a train captain on board.  Now hands up who think that sounds like a plausible story?
The rest is equal banal, despite admitting that the strike on DLR was "the result of a long-running dispute" it accuses the RMT of being "trigger-happy", "irresponsible" and "trying to live up to its tough reputation, as maintained by the late Bob Crow".   It says that the matter should be resolved through negotiation, as if the RMT haven't been trying to negotiate a settlement all this time, and it calls on the union to compromise but doesn't seem to expect the same from KeolisAmey who've managed to achieve something Serco failed to do during its 17 year stint in charge by provoking two strike ballots in one year.  For good measure the subStandard blames the failure of Night Tube to appear last month on "union intransigence" despite LU matching KeolisAmey's achievement by managing to create the first dispute involving all four Tube unions since 1926.
At least we were spared any mention of the Delevigne sisters or "Two Beards" Lebedev's holiday snaps.


  1. Whilst it may not have applied back then, these days with the increase in passengers there needs to be someone on board. Travelling one night I had a word with one of the 'captains' and he said that Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays after 8pm they have to do their duties from the front because of alcohol related incidents like people jumping on the track. It allows them to see any potential hazards ahead of time which you can't do from the middle of the train.
    Mind you, may not even be alcohol. Said PSA talked about a time when some chap left his bicycle on the train and then chased after it along the tracks.

  2. If the general public are not allowed to drive when they go out on the piss then how else are they getting home?

    As for potential hazards etc.: unless you put in platform edge doors at all stations or some seriously sophisticated sensors in the four-foot (which will no doubt go off every time some seagull takes a shit on the tracks...) you will end up needing a human on board.

  3. It does appear that the Tube unions have been quick and frequent on the trigger.

    As an intercity Aslef member who has never been called to strike in 25 years I am concerned that this has caused the present conflict over changes in the law on the numbers required for legitimate strike ballots.

    You are paid considerably more than us and have more time off so you've had some effect, but I think you could have been a lot more judicious in your approach and avoided the coming conflicts.

    1. "You are paid considerably more than us".

      Really? Which InterCity do you work for? We're on £49673, according to the ASLEF website.........

      Crosscountry £57674
      Virgin East Coast £56967
      Virgin West Coast £56552
      FGW £49613
      Hull Trains £48672
      Grand Central £48425
      East Midland £46014
      Greater Anglia Abellio £45758

      So either more than us or slightly less and I’m assuming that doesn’t include the rest day working for Sundays that a lot of TOCs still have which we don’t.

      “and have more time off”

      28 days statutory leave + 8 days bank holidays + 7 days for working 36 hours but only getting paid for 35 = 43 days annual leave. How much do you get?

      I look forward to your reply.

    2. As for strikes ASLEF didn’t have any strikes on the Tube between 2001 and Boxing Day 2010, since then we’ve had Boxing Day 2011, Boxing Day 2012, one day last year on the Central Line only and the two days this year for Night Tube. Until the strikes over staff cuts and ticket office hours in 2010 TSSA hadn’t been on strike on the Tube since 1926.

      Trigger Happy? Really?

    3. You are lucky enough for ASLEF and the TOC you work for to have had good relations. Consider that 'Night Tube' will change many agreements made between the unions and management over the years, and think how things would've been had the 'Drivers Restructuring Initiative (DRI)' NEGOTIATED in the early days of privatisation at your company, been attempted to be forced through by management without recompense to offset the productivity gains you gave up. E.g. Double manning over 110mph, mileage payments, driver only payments, reverting to 'spare' when not signing the route or traction of your booked job.

      "Caused the present conflict over changes in the law [over strike ballots]"?

      I think you are being a bit naïve here. Although, I would say that the Union hierarchy are too, and should perhaps have been less predictable with the direction they took, but perhaps their hands are tied to some extent. I think a trap was walked into.

      Senior Civil Servants and Policy Makers are clever people. Conniving, sneaky, plotters. I would not be at all surprised if the timing of the dispute on the Tube had been planned out - "If we win the next election, how can we gain propaganda for crushing the unions? What if we get the Tube to go on strike? Maybe during the summer holidays when it's less busy, and it won't affect the MPs getting to Westminster because they would be in summer recess? Maybe we can tell TfL management to be so stubborn that the unions will go on strike twice and we can really make THEM look unreasonable with a bit of PR? Then we can change the law on Trade Unions!"

      "That sounds a great plan, where's Boris? Get him to announce Night Tube now! No one's going to vote Liberal Democrat and that geek of a leader of Labour won't get them voted in either."

      ...Is probably how it went.

      Underground Train Operators paid more than Intercity Drivers and have more time off?

      Well most Intercity TOCs work an average 35 hour week with a paid break over 4 days. Virgin East Coast have an average 4.25 day week.
      Most TOCs have 'London Weighting' on top of the salaries quoted above, and out of the Intercity operators only Abellio Greater Anglia would earn less, and are on a five day week. Although I believe there was a strike or certainly a vote for one under National Express.

      Tube drivers have a 30 minute unpaid break and work a five day week, so that's a 2.5 hour discrepancy per week between them and you straightway. Whilst they get more annual leave days than you, they work a five day week, not four, Seven of their annual leave days are NOT (despite ASLEF saying they are on their website) annual leave. They are banked rest days for working an average 36 hours per week (excluding the breaks you get paid for remember) instead of 35. They are allocated in the same way as annual leave as it's easier for everyone, but are often erroneously counted as annual leave even though they are not.

      Intercity trains have a Guard on them to do the doors and make announcements. The Driver does not carry the risk of a 'Platform/Train Interface' incident - the Guard does.

      Tube drivers do the work of both jobs.

      I used to drive Intercity trains and now drive Suburban ones including a small part of 'tube'. Tube drivers earn a bit more than me as a basic salary. They could earn a LOT more than me and they can keep it - I wouldn't fancy being in a tunnel all the time, and they have much more of a lively time with 'customers' than the routes I drive. I do not think the grass is greener on the Tube.
      I hope a reasonable arrangement over 'Night Tube' can be struck.

  4. Also potentially no pay rise for 3 years for Underground workers as this conditional on agreeing to night tube, would you as a Inter City Driver put up with that?

  5. How is the DLR on strike? Isn't it supposed to be strike proof?

  6. What do you mean 'strikeproof'? No transport system is 'strikeproof', as it still requires humans to oversee it. control it, and maintain it. And every human - at least in this country - still has the legal right to strike.