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  • Writer's pictureFinn Brennan ASLEF Distri

Underground management push ahead with plans to rip up drivers working conditions.

With strike action looming last summer, London Underground management claimed that they had withdrawn their proposals for so-called “trains modernisation”,  a program of cuts to drivers working conditions and forced changes to agreements and rostering parameters designed to save up to £36 million and cut hundreds of drivers jobs.


But in fact, they continue to have a full-time team of seconded Train Operation managers, Train Managers and Project management staff working to introduce their plans at a politically convenient time for them.

The document they produced last year was open about their plans and the impact they would have on every driver across the tube network;

  • Booking on and off at depots and remote locations in your own time adding hours to the time you spend at work every week;  

  • Increasing all current rostering parameters, the time you spend in the cab to maximise “efficiency” with up to 25% increase in driving time;  

  • Ending fixed links, drastically cutting the number of spare turns and making those that remain “flexible” so that your booking on and finishing time can be changed at short notice;

  • Cutting walking and train prep time so driving spells can be increased;  

  • Removing all local and line agreements;  

  • Introducing 24 hour booking on and off so you can start and finish at any time and night turns are eliminated.  

We have always been willing to discuss and negotiate change, but there is no possibility that these plans could make things better for train staff. They are all about making you work harder and longer so that TfL company can cut its costs even more. ASLEF have formally twice asked the company for confirmation that they will not proceed with this project. They have refused to reply and are continuing with their preparations.

Staff safety, security, and training cuts.

The recently announced fares freeze adds to the financial pressure on TfL to make even more savings. But those savings cannot come at the expense of staff working conditions.

While management grades are increasingly benefiting from the flexibility and saving in traveling time of working from home, train drivers are under increased pressure every day. Your Health and Safety reps have been dealing with a spike in anti-social (and downright dangerous) behaviour from air rifles shooting at trains to cab intrusions.

Problems are particularly bad on late night and Night Tube services. When Night Tube started, we were promised a big in increase in BTP numbers, but those extra officers have now vanished leaving staff feeling vulnerable and unsupported while passengers feel at risk.

Management have also completely removed annual refresher training (CDP) for train staff, replacing it with just one day “competence verification”. The result is that all drivers, but especially recently qualified ones are being deprived of the chance to refresh their knowledge and skills.

As the rate of train failures on the Central and Jubilee lines show, the impact of a decade of inadequate investment is now being felt across the combine. But managements' only answer sems to be more attacks on staff and cuts to working conditions.

ASLEF members voted by over 98% in favour of industrial action if management did not provide the assurances we asked for that all agreements would be honoured. It is clear from multiple reports from our reps and members this is just not happening. Our Executive Committee will meet next week to discuss what we now need to do to protect our members interests and we will update members on the next steps.

Finn Brennan

ASLEF District Organiser.

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