Organisational Strategic Plan (OSP) Equality Review

Report to RMT stations representatives from Janine Booth

Summary:

  • London Underground does not consider the needs of equalities groups when calculating its station staffing levels.
  • LU's methods for collecting information, categorising passenger journeys and assessing data are deeply flawed and fail to account for equality issues.
  • LU did not carry out an adequate Equality Impact Assessment before going ahead with the OSP, despite being obliged by law to do so. The revisions it has made to the EqIA since then are minor and wholly inadequate.
  • This leaves stations with far fewer staff than they need in order to meet passengers‟ needs, and results in detriments and inequalities for both staff and passengers.
  • The OSP staffing cuts will leave disabled and elderly passengers less able to access the assistance they need; women and other groups vulnerable to assault afraid to travel, especially late at night; and LU generally less able to ensure equality needs are met.
  • The OSP staffing cuts have impacted negatively on all staff, but disproportionately on women, ethnic minority and young workers; OSP also leaves LU less able to accommodate the needs of staff with caring responsibilities and disabled staff.
  • LU 'consulted' with equalities groups eg. disability organisations, regarding the OSP, and the responses were generally opposed to staffing cuts. LU admits that it made no changes to its job-cutting policy as a result of this 'consultation'.
  • The only way to avoid these negative equality impacts is to reverse the OSP and restore the cut jobs.
  • However, LU has made NO offer to restore ANY cut jobs via the equality strand of the OSP review.

Gathering information about passenger journeys:

LU's data about the purpose of passengers' travel is put together by the Rolling Origin and Destination Survey (RODS). This involves passengers being handed a form asking them about their journey which they fill in while travelling then hand in. We pointed out that various equality groups would be less likely to fill in these forms and thus their needs would be under-represented in the data collected. Passengers would be less likely to fill in the form if, for example, English is not their first language, or they are visually impaired, or they have their hands full looking after young children during their journey.

RMT asked for management to report back on whether and how RODS accounts for equalities groups and how data is adjusted to account for a lower rate of return of the survey by equalities groups, and to consider further adjustments if appropriate. This has not yet been done adequately.

Passenger categories:

London Underground considers its passengers‟ journeys in three categories - commuter, leisure and tourist. It does not consider categories such as women/men, disabled, ethnic groups, young/old, LGBT etc. RMT argued that this categorisation therefore does not adequately consider equality groups. For example, is a disabled person attending an appointment at a hospital a tourist, commuter, or leisure traveller? Pressed by RMT, LU admitted that this counts as a „leisure‟ journey!

LU decides how many staff it needs on a station by using a formula to generate a Business Needs Schematic. LU admitted that the formula does not include equality needs.

Ticket office methodology:

The ticket office methodology is being discussed in depth by another strand of the review, so our discussion was concerned only with the equalities impacts. Some equalities group have a particular need to use a ticket office eg. those with a disability that makes it difficult or impossible to use a ticket machine; or perhaps elderly people who may not be confident in using new technology to buy tickets.

RMT also expressed concern that LU takes no account of visits to the ticket office where the customer does not buy a ticket eg. they carry out a different kind of transaction, such as resolving a journey; or they ask for help eg. a mobility-impaired passenger enquiring at a ticket office whether his/her destination station has step-free access.

We believe that members of equality groups need a ticket office to be available for these purposes, and their visits to the ticket office should not be overlooked.

Ticket hall methodology:

The ticket hall methodology is a formula that counts the number of passengers passing through gates, and "weights" them according to whether their journeys are classed as commuter, leisure or tourist. This gives a "utilisation" figure, and a station is allocated one member of staff in the ticket hall for 2% utilisation; two for 40% utilisation; three for 80% utilisation and four for 120% utilisation. An additional 20% workload is factored in at ticket halls without a Wide Aisle Gate.

This formula generates staffing levels which are woefully inadequate, as staff in many stations are run off their feet.

RMT argued that that the formula should consider the proximity of the station to a venue frequently visited by equality groups eg. hospital, elderly people's facility, place of worship, etc. The examples we gave were Old Street (local station for Moorfields Eye Hospital) and King's Cross (local station for the Royal National Institute for Blind People), but we know that there are many more.

LU claimed that issues like this would be incorporated into a BNS after the formula had been applied, via consultation with local management, but were able to provide only one example of this – the addition of one CSA at Kings Cross. LU claimed that training staff to assist passengers with special needs mitigated the effects of cutting staff. We replied that no amount of training could enable staff to be in more than one place at the same time when more than one passenger needed their help because there were not enough staff available.

RMT pointed out that the formula also takes no account of, for example, women being anxious about travelling through unstaffed or sparsely-staffed stations; it only accounts for the workload of staff (and does that inadequately) not for the benefits of the presence of staff. LU claimed that this is taken into account by its stated policy that all stations are staffed throughout the traffic day. However, this is just not true - nearly one-third of stations are unstaffed at some point during the traffic day.

RMT secured agreement from LU management to consider amending the formula to incorporate equalities issues – but LU later refused to do this.

Equality Impact Assessment (staff):

London Underground revised its Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) for staff only. (We have asked the company to also revise its EqIA for passengers.) The new EqIA table for staff:

  1. considers only displacement, no other aspect of the OSP, and how these may affect equality groups
  2. only considers whether various equality groups are more likely to have been displaced, not any other aspect of displacement, eg. increased travelling time, less suitable work location, and whether this may have a disproportionate effect on equality groups
  3. uses a faulty calculation of 'tolerance' enabling it to overlook major impacts on equality groups
  4. reveals a significantly disproportionate effect of displacement on some women and some ethnic minority and faith groups
  5. proposes no action to rectify the negative impact on black and ethnic minority staff or faith groups
  6. considers only minor mitigations in its action plan, which will have very little effect, will not undo any damage done, and crucially, does not even consider restoring any cut jobs

1. The revised EqIA is titled 'STAFF DISPLACEMENT REVIEW', and considers only staff displacements in its assessment. Legally, LU must carry out an EqIA of its policy ie. the OSP, rather than of just one aspect of it (staff displacements). As a result, impacts of the OSP on staff such as increased workload, lone working, anti-social hours etc, are simply ignored by this EqIA.

2. The preamble to the EqIA table acknowledges that there will be some increase in travelling time to and from work, but states that the increases „are not considered unreasonable‟, giving no evidence or argument to substantiate this. No consideration is given to the impact of this increased travelling time on different equality groups, eg. the difficulties created for staff needing to drop off or pick up children from school or nursery, or for disabled staff to attend appointments.
The EqIA claims that travel before start of traffic or after close of traffic does not disproportionately impact on any equality group, again without evidence or argument. However, women staff have often expressed fear of attack when waiting for staff taxis and/or walking to/from drop-off points at night, and members of other equality groups vulnerable to attack may have similar concerns. Travel difficulties at extreme hours may also impact on staff with certain disabilities.
The EQIA preamble does list among the mitigations in question 5b: Requests for reversal or alternative moves considered and implemented owing to specific personal issues where specific obligations exist. The union encourages members to take this up.

3. The table attempts to establish whether each equality group has had its members displaced in disproportionate numbers, by comparing the proportion of each equality group amongst displaced staff in each grade, and the proportion in that grade before OSP. The EqIA allocates a „negative equality impact‟ categorisation „based upon a 5% tolerance between data sets (i.e. displaced staff > 5% than pre OSP) will trigger a negative equality impact.‟
However, the actual comparison allows a difference of not 5% but 5 percentage points – a greater „tolerance‟ that allows the analysis to ignore major differences. eg. 2% of SSMFs are young (<25), but 6% of displaced SSMFs are young. This is a big difference - 6% is three times 2%. Yet, because the difference can be presented as 4 percentage points (which is less than 5!), this major disparity does not trigger a „negative equality impact‟ where there clearly is one.
This is a serious methodological flaw in the analysis which must be rectified. The tolerance level should be set and implemented in terms of percentages, not percentage points.

4. Even LU's understating EqIA calculation reveals some groups suffering a disproportionate negative equality impact, as follows:

  • women SAMFs (36% of displaced staff vs. 29% of staff in grade)
  • black and ethnic minority SS1s (49% vs. 43%)
  • black and ethnic minority SSMFs (69% vs. 39%)
  • Christian SS2s (27% vs. 21%)
  • Christian SSMFs (38% vs. 24%)
  • Muslim SSMFs (13% vs. 6%)

These are significant differences which in practice mean that members of these groups were displaced in greater proportionate numbers than their workmates.

5. Shockingly, LU proposes to do nothing about the negative impact on ethnic minority and faith groups. There appear to be two 'reasons' given for this:

  • For black and ethnic minority SS1s and SSMFs, the disparity is dismissed by the assertion that “The SS grade is only affected by the station re-grouping. The relatively high proportion of displaced staff arises from the consequent splitting of the reserve where many staff were not in fact moved.” It is inaccurate to state that displacing a member of staff from one (old) group reserve to another (new, different) group reserve amounts to not being moved. These staff have been moved, and now work at more stations, with probably greater travelling time and more disruption to their work-life balance. These staff have suffered a detriment, that detriment has fallen massively disproportionately on black and ethnic minority staff, and yet LU chooses to casually dismiss it.
  • For the faith groups, LU‟s pretext for inaction is that “There is no clear reasoning/ explanation” for the significant disproportionate impact. It is not acceptable for LU to refuse to act because it cannot explain its own findings. If LU cannot find the reason on the bare facts, it should dig deeper – it may, for example, find a correlation between the faith and ethnicity statistics, finding that those displaced may include many black Christians and/or Asian/Arab Muslims. But whatever the explanation, a negative impact is a negative impact, and it must be addressed. If LU cannot mitigate it, then it must withdraw the aspect of the policy that caused it: in this case, the group re-organisation. (For faith groups, LU claims that the figures are skewed by people having the option to indicate “prefer not to say”. It offers no evidence, however, that this would skew the figures in the direction of negative equality impact rather than the opposite direction.)

6. The EqIA proposes to address the issue of the women SAMFs by including it in the Action Plan. However, this Action Plan proposes only 'Positive Action' for the future. We await detail from LU as to exactly what positive action it plans that it is not already using. However, this can only aspire to increase the proportion of women in LU grades in the future. While this may be welcome, it ignores the purpose of the EqIA, which is to identify the equality impact of the policy itself (ie. the OSP, which has already been implemented) and to amend that policy to remove or reduce negative equality impacts. It is hard to see how 'positive action' in the future will undo the detriment done to the disproportionate number of women displaced under the OSP. Similarly, the Action Plan proposes to introduce a 'robust 6 month review process'. While this is welcome, it is not sufficient. We are currently engaged in a review process, and we are addressing the OSP at the point of its implementation, not 6 months down the line.

The revised EqIA for staff is seriously inadequate. It must be revised again, thoroughly, to:

  • include all impacts of the OSP on staff, not just displacement
  • include all impacts of displacement, not just numbers/proportions of staff displaced
  • calculate tolerance on the basis of percentage difference, not of percentage points
  • further analyse the reasons for the negative equality impact on black and ethnic minority, Christian and Muslim staff
  • adopt a serious action plan that includes amending or withdrawing aspects of the OSP itself, in particular restoring cut jobs and reconsidering the group reorganisation.
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