Wednesday 30 December 2015

A couple of weeks ago LU quietly placed an advert for part-timer TOps to work  Night Tube.

The job description states “Salary: £49,673 pro rated dependant on the confirmed weekly hours you are allocated (15 hours per week equates to approx. £21,288 p.a.)” which suggests that there might be some variation in the number of shifts and the amount of hours but in the FAQs it repeatedly states that the job will be 15 hours a week on Friday and Saturday nights only with no variation.  Once they get the job they'll have to work 18 months before being allowed to apply for full time vacancies or change depots.

The last time they tried to recruit directly from the public rather than internally was about 15 years ago, back then they had thousands of applications most of which were rejected, most of those who got through to training failed the TOps course and I believe the whole affair only produced about 30 new TOps.  The rest were sent to stations as CSAs and allowed to reapply for the TOps course after six months but this time it’s different, it clearly state that if the applicant fails at any stage of the recruitment process, testing or training they will find themselves back on the street.

Applicants are warned that the 16 week training course will be full time but there’s no mention of CDP/ATOR/5 day block, it certainly seems odd to omit that roughly once a year they’ll be required to come in M-F 9-5 and somehow I don’t imagine the trainers are going to be interested in holding CDP courses at night or weekends.  This also raises the question of corrective actions plans, where a TOp who has made an error has to work with an IOp and the same for supervision in the cab after “one unders”.

The closing date is 11pm Monday 4th January although they say they are expecting a high response and will stop taking applications once they think they’ve got enough but as of this morning with 6 days to go it’s still there on TfL website.  I don’t know how many part time TOps would be needed for Night Tube but advertising over the Christmas/New Year period with what seems to be very little publicity doesn’t seem likely to attract a “pool” of applicants large enough to produce the required number of TOps.

TfL cover themselves will a neat little bit tucked away in the middle that says “There may be a requirement to delay your start date until you are required.”  So even if you jump through all the hoops they might never give you the job because they still don’t know if Night Tube is going to happen.

Tuesday 1 December 2015

It seems that there won’t be a strike on Boxing Day after all, since I wrote I have been told that the number of TOps volunteering at LES has doubled to 36 leaving just ten shifts to be filled by the unwilling.  HAI and LOU have had a similar response while over on the west end of the line not only have WER and WHC got enough volunteers to fill their Boxing Day rosters but one of them – WER I think – has one volunteer too many.  Apparently the extra bod was asked if they’d like to work a LES duty but they declined.

While I don’t know why we’ve had such an enthusiastic response to Boxing Day working I suspect it could be that as we lost two days wages on strike days and with no pay rise in sight some people are eager to make some extra cash.  On the latest pay offer the reaction has been less than enthusiastic, someone calculated that after the incoming changes to National Insurance the proposed RPI or 1% could mean we’d be taking home less than we are now and when compared to what our colleagues at London Overground are getting (RPI plus 0.5% with 2.25% minimum) it doesn’t seem that good a deal.

Despite what ITN claimed last week a four day week is not part of the deal, management have only offered to discuss the possibility although to be honest I’ve not met anyone who fancied squeezing 36 hours into four days or taking a 20% pay cut.  Along with the four day week the proposal to cap the number of Saturdays and Sundays we work has also been dropped and there’s no mention of whether they still want to expand “Special events” from three to seven.

Management’s claim that they’ll staff Night Tube with part timers seems rather unrealistic.  Back in October one of Boris’s spokespeople said that “the introduction of Night Tube will not be at any cost” but I would have thought that recruiting and training that many part timers would be far more expensive than adding the extra night shifts into the rosters of the existing TOps even when you add in the £200 a shift over the interim period.  The longer this drags on the more people seem to suspect that management are deliberately dragging their heels in the hope that they can abandon the whole idea as unworkable and lay the blame on the unions.

I have been asked to do many things in the twelve years I’ve been a TOp but yesterday was a new one on me.  As I left HOL WB Wood Lane called, asked me to switch into Coded when I got closer to TCR, stop with the cab just in the platform and then see if I could “smell anything untoward”.   As instructed I waited until the train slowed on the approach, knocked out the TBC, pulled into the platform, opened the cab door and had a good sniff.  I suppose I should have asked if I was smelling for smoke, gas, garlic bread or Armani pour Homme but I couldn’t smell anything apart from the usual stench of the Central Line