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Campaign will win at Tube Lines: with their consent or not

1 November 2011

A member-led campaign at Tube Lines aims to use the law to compel the employer to recognise the union for staff on PRP

Tube Lines recognition

TUBE LINES STAFF on performance related pay do not have the right to collectively negotiate their pay. We plan to change that. Over the last three years there have been no pay talks for Tube Lines staff on PRP, with the vast majority having received no pay rise. By contrast, staff performing similar roles at Transport for London – which wholly owns Tube Lines – have union negotiated pay. They have received pay increase for each of the last three years, with an above inflation rise of 6% this year.

TSSA reps and activists at Tube Lines began campaigning in 2010 to gain pay negotiating rights for all staff. When Tube Lines management refused to even talk to the unions, TSSA members on PRP voted overwhelmingly to support industrial action. The first ever strike by staff at Tube Lines took place in September 2010 and was well supported by members.

Despite this, Tube Lines management were still not willing to talk about recognition, so TSSA decided to get the law on side. There is a statutory process that allows trade unions to apply to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) for recognition rights to negotiate on behalf of all staff. To do this a union must show that a majority of the staff affected – whether union members or not – want them to be recognised to negotiate their pay; and that’s what we’ve done.

In July 2011 TSSA launched an on-line petition (the first time this has ever been used in the legal recognition process) so that PRP staff could sign up electronically to support union recognition. The response was overwhelming, with over 100 signatures in the first week.

The TSSA recognition organising team, made up of activists and reps, organised workplace meetings and leafleted key locations to talk to staff, explain the statutory process and tell them about the campaign. Since then, hundreds of Tube Lines staff have signed our petition or Pledge Cards.

In September we had our first concrete evidence that Tube Lines were at last starting to listen. For the first time in three years the company has awarded staff on PRP contracts a pay rise. TSSA reps were told by a senior manager that our campaign for recognition was “massively helpful” in enabling them to secure funds for PRP payments this year.

Although pay awards for staff on PRP still lag behind their Tube Lines colleagues on union negotiated pay, the recent dramatic change in attitude demonstrates what a difference organising together can make.

The next stage is to submit the statutory application for recognition. To do this we will be working with the RMT on a joint application, as together we have the support of around three quarters of all union members and other staff on PRP contracts in Tube Lines. But before that we’ll be going back to Tube Lines and asking them to talk. We hope that the clear message from the majority of staff on PRP contracts will bring Tube Lines to the negotiating table.

Winning collective pay bargaining rights at Tube Lines will be a major victory. Yet it is also only the beginning of a longer campaign, winning those who’ve signed the petition over to the benefits of union membership and hopefully, to active involvement.

To sign up to the Tube Lines petition see www.tssa. org.uk/tubelinespetition To find out more or to get involved contact Mel Taylor, taylorm@tssa.org.uk, 0773 819 5127

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