DLR strike this Wednesday and Thursday

Update, 12.40, 27 Jan: strike suspended!

By way of contradiction to the below post, the strike has now been suspended after the RMT announced that the threat of this action had secured all their goals in the negotiation.

Congratulations to their members for demonstrating the power of strong trade unions, which I’m sure internet commenters everywhere will view solely as encouragement to join a union themselves and certainly not to complain that their ununionised working conditions are inferior to those of RMT members 😉

Original post follows…

DLR strike

From the good DLR news to the not so good.

This Wednesday and Thursday (28 and 29 January 2015) there’s likely to be no service at all on the DLR network, as staff strike in a dispute about their terms and conditions under their new employer.

The DLR is operated by a private company, with services, fares etc. set by TfL (much like the Overground is). On 7 December 2014 that operator switched from Serco to Kelios Amey Docklands. (N.B. Another of Kelios’s joint ventures, this time with Go-Ahead, may be familiar to you: it’s called Govia and it operates Southeastern, Southern and Thameslink.) Serco had operated the DLR since 1997, and had been hitting record highs of reliability in recent years, so their loss of this contract was quite a surprise, and surely based on the bottom line rather than any concerns about performance.

As with all such outsourcing provider changes, the staff working on the DLR moved across from Serco to Kelios Amey, but it seems, in the RMT union membership’s view at least, some of their terms and conditions of employment did not:

these include secondments without members’ consent or agreement, new and inferior policies on Maternity & Paternity leave, longer waiting period for entitlement to full sick pay and a failure by the Company to deal with a list of outstanding health & safety issues as well as undermining the efforts of your RMT H&S Rep

So says the RMT statement last week calling the strike action. And it seems most workers agree, with 96% of those voting in the strike ballot voting to take strike action (and 97% voting for other action short of a strike too). These are figures perhaps closer to typical DLR reliability stats than to typical ballot results, so it seems safe to assume a high proportion of DLR staff will not be at work during the strike period.

It’s therefore unsurprising that TfL have today said that if the strike goes ahead, it’s likely there’ll be no DLR services at all between 4am on Wednesday and 3.59am on Friday – in other words, all day on Wednesday and Thursday this week. Their advice to avoid the busiest times to travel if possible seems a little superfluous – I’m not sure anyone travels at the busiest times if they don’t have to.

Good luck to anyone who’d normally travel by DLR looking to find an alternative route on Wednesday and Thursday; and good luck to RMT members in standing up for their conditions, too.

DLR evening frequency increase

Just for once, here’s a bit of caveat-free good transport news for Lewisham!

New double-frequency DLR service starts 2 Feb 2015

Our DLR service frequency on weekday evenings between 9pm and 11.30pm will double to every five minutes, from every ten, starting in just over a week, on Monday 2 February, as part of a set of DLR service changes:

  • Twice as many trains between Woolwich Arsenal and Canning Town during off-peak hours and at weekends with a train every 4-5 minutes
  • Beckton – Stratford International service will be replaced with a Beckton – West Ham service operating from 10:00 to 16:00 Monday to Friday and from 08:30 Saturdays and 10:30 Sundays to 19:30. Interchange at West Ham for trains towards Stratford International. When no West Ham service is shown, take the first train and change at Canning Town
  • Twice as many trains between Bank and Lewisham from 21:00 to 23:30 Monday to Friday with a train every 5 minutes
  • Longer 3-carriage DLR trains at weekends between Stratford and Canary Wharf, increasing capacity by half

I look forward to greatly increased chances of a wait for the DLR of less than four minutes after I arrive home by train from an evening out – the critical point at which it’s quicker to catch it than walk home (although of course I wouldn’t need to if the Platform 4 gate were open…)!