Red Tabards: real issue is lack of staff, not lack of visibility

The RMT's Regional Organiser John Leach has written to London Underground to highlight our ongoing concerns about red tabards following an article in LU's propoganda magazine 'On The Move.'

John Leach wrote to remind tube bosses that we remain in dispute and to request a meeting about claims made in the article.

The Letter

Jean Cockerill
Human Resources Director
London Underground Ltd
7th Floor, 197 Blackfriars Road

16th May 2019

Dear Jean


I am writing with regards to the red tabards/vests, recently imposed as a new item of uniform for LU Station Staff. As you will recall, RMT has previously written to you about this matter to confirm our opposition to this imposition, and to inform you that a dispute existed between us on this question.

Naomi Smith’s article in the May edition of On The Move refers to a consultation having taken place via the Uniform Consultative Committee but unsurprisingly omits to mention RMT’s stated position of opposition to the imposition of the tabards.

Even more notable, the article also states that LU “knows the vests aren’t ideal”, and that they are a “temporary solution”. This begs the question as to why so much time and money has been wasted on them; especially at a time when LU is claiming, in pay negotiations, that it has no finances to resource union demands such as a reduced working week.

My members have reported instances of being abused by passengers whilst carrying out necessary operational tasks such as fixing gates or reversing escalators for not immediately breaking off from these tasks to assist them; a direct consequence of the large “Here to Help” roundel design on the reverse of the tabards, something we now understand LU plans to permanently integrate into every item of uniform.

I am therefore requesting a meeting with you, at director level, to further discuss our concerns. Given that a formal dispute situation still exists, this is the appropriate level of machinery for this matter to be discussed.

I will take this opportunity to reiterate that the problem on LU stations is not one of staff “visibility”, but of staff numbers. If LU wants to make staff more “visible”, they first have to ensure staff are present by reinstating jobs cut under “Fit for the Future”. Imposing an additional item of uniform on staff - which, as the weather grows warmer, is likely to be increasingly uncomfortable – is not a solution.
Yours sincerely

John Leach

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