ROLE & RESPONSIBILITIES, OPERATIONAL ENGINEERS, PALESTRA NETWORK COMMAND AREA - LONDON UNDERGROUND

Our Ref: LUL/14/1

6th July 2021

TO ALL OPERATIONS ENGINEERS AT PALESTRA HOUSE

DO NOT WASTE YOUR VOTE!  
VOTE 'YES' TO BOTH STRIKE ACTION AND ACTION SHORT OF A STRIKE!

Dear Colleagues,

ROLE & RESPONSIBILITIES, OPERATIONAL ENGINEERS, PALESTRA (NETWORK COMMAND AREA) - LONDON UNDERGROUND

I am writing with regards the above matter and following the below resolution from your LU Engineering Branch:

“This branch requests a ballot for strike action and action short for our Operational Engineers (OE's) based at Palestra in the Network Command Area

Background:

In 2019 the Network Command area went through a transformation which resulted in an overall reduction in staffing numbers and a realignment of reporting lines, team structure, a migration to one operating system, new job/role titles created, new JDs, some new tasks and activities along with existing. The go live or stand up of this new model did not take place for 18 months until April 3rd 2021.

• Fault Report Centre Operators became known as Control Centre Operators (CCOs) also with the introduction of a Team Leader (TL) role which sits within the same grade.
• The Duty Operations Engineers (DOEs), Duty Operation Manager Engineering (DOMEs) and their support staff became known as Network Operation Engineers (NOEs) and Operation Engineers (OEs)

The Go Live has resulted in large amounts of confusion over roles and excessive workloads and problems for our members.

Repeated demands for meaningful discussions, rather that failing to accept our concerns and numerous requests to delay implementation have been ignored and, as we predicted, has resulted in an intolerable situation for our members. These concerns include:

• A clear shift of tasks and activities as was previously operated in the old structures from the lead engineering staff to the support staff. Now the Operational Engineer's (support staff) are now the first point of contact for stakeholders, who are in fact expecting to speak directly to the NOE. Only "VIPs" (yet to be defined) are given access to a secret NOE direct line number. The number for the NOE listed on publications and disseminated out to other departments, is in fact the contact number for the OEs (support staff), who are now the first point of contact.
• The OEs are now the grade who are dealing with the front-line issues and have to turn to the NOEs to gain the overall authority, permission and to give instruction on their behalf.
• Their Operational Engineer JD clearly states that their role is that of support to the NOEs and more and more work has been given to them that is outside of the original discussions of this role.

All attempts at resolving this matter have failed and we do not believe that the local and upper management in this area wish to engage with the RMT in a meaningful way (for example they have unilaterally move these and other staff into different parts of the machinery of negotiation and de-recognised local reps)

Enough is now enough and we request that the Operational Engineers are balloted for action short of strike, and strike action.

Agreed action short of strike:

The Operational Engineers will not;

1. Deal with any incident, request, enquiry directly without first escalating to the NOE for instruction, direction, guidance or action. (As OEs do not have any authority or accountability and are currently recognised as support staff to the NOEs)
2. Carry out or assist in the training or coaching of any new or existing staff.
3. Step up to cover a higher grade for full shifts.
4. Carry out or accept any duties on overtime.”

Your National Executive Committee has considered the matter and noted that an ill-conceived reorganisation at LUL is once more causing numerous problems and negatively affecting members. Your NEC has further noted that the attempts to resolve matters through the machinery have failed and that representatives do not believe management are prepared to engage with them in any meaningful way.

Your NEC further has instructed me to inform LUL that we are in dispute and to seek an urgent dispute resolution meeting. The company were informed of the dispute on 7th June 2021 and asked to convene an urgent dispute resolution meeting, this has not taken place.

In accordance with your NEC’s instructions a ballot for industrial action will now be conducted. Ballot papers are being dispatched from today, Tuesday 6th July 2021 and will close on Thursday 22nd July 2021.

I urge you all to vote ‘YES’ to strike action and ‘YES’ to action short of a strike to ensure a strong a mandate as possible, and to best ensure a resolution to the intolerable situation endured by our Operations Engineers at present.

If you do not receive your voting paper from the independent scrutineer by Tuesday 13th July 2021 please e-mail info@rmt.org.uk to request a replacement. Alternatively, call the freephone helpline on 0800 376 3706.

Important Please Note:  The Scrutineer for RMT Ballots and Elections is 'Civica Election Services' (CES). Letters from Civica are not Junk Mail and should be opened.

I trust this keeps you fully advised and I will of course keep you updated on all further developments.

Yours sincerely


Michael Lynch
General Secretary