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  • Writer's pictureFinn Brennan ASLEF Distri

Why ASLEF are in dispute with London Underground.

This week ASLEF has given statutory notice that we will be holding an industrial action ballot of our members on London Underground. Ballot papers will be sent out from Tuesday August 25th.

As well as bringing personal tragedy and hardship to so many people, the pandemic has led to a massive change in the way London Underground is funded. Passenger revenue has collapsed, and the system was only saved from technical bankruptcy by a temporary Government bailout.

Auditors are now preparing a report that will be used to decide on levels of funding for the next few years and on the cuts that will be made. The terms of reference for this review include “workforce modernisation” and “further efficiencies in operating costs”. In other words, cuts to wages, conditions and jobs. No area or grade can expect to be safe from this. The PM has already publicly spoken about "unshackling" London Underground from the trade union agreements that protect your job and have delivered real wage increases and a decent pension even during the years of austerity.

To ensure we can protect our members, ASLEF wrote to London Underground to seek assurances that any changes would come about by agreement. They have refused to give those assurances.

ASLEF are always prepared to talk and negotiate about change. That is what trade unions are for. But we cannot accept that detrimental changes to our members working conditions and agreements can be forced through at the say so of management or Government appointees. If there are to be changes, they must come about through discussion and agreement and must bring benefits to staff.

We cannot simply wait until management announce the cuts and attacks on conditions they will make before we respond. It takes months to hold a lawful ballot for industrial action. That would allow changes to agreements to be forced through with the union completely unable to act.

Already this year management brought back pre-covid duty sheets without agreement and docked pay from people who raised health and safety concerns. To protect your working conditions, we need to have a mandate for action so that we can make management negotiate instead of impose!

Our aim is not to rush into strike action. It is to make sure that management negotiate in good faith.

If we do not have a strong Yes vote, management will take that as a sign that we are not prepared to protect our terms and conditions at work. So when your ballot paper arrives next week, please Vote Yes and return it as soon as possible in the envelope provided.

It is important to make sure that all members address and location details are up to date so if you have recently moved home, depot or grade or you have not received a ballot paper in the past, please email with your details.

Online Open Meting

14.00 Wed. August 26th

Although we cannot hold meetings in the same way we have in the past, ASLEF officials and senior reps will hold an open online Zoom meeting on Wednesday August 26th at 14:00 to explain the background to the dispute and answer members questions.

You can join the meeting on any smart device. Just click on the link below. All members welcome I hope to see you there.

Finn Brennan

ASLEF District Organiser

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