Friday, January 13, 2006

RMT battles for Tube safety

THE RMT transport union last Monday slammed the management of London Underground for ignoring Tube safety rules in an attempt to beat strike action by station staff over the imposition of unsafe rosters.
RMT London regional organiser Bobby Law said that the system was being kept open by untrained staff and managers who were working shifts of up to 20 hours.
“Due to the intransigence of London Underground, trains full of passengers are running through closed stations, in direct contravention of safety rules.
“For instance, instead of disembarking passengers, Piccadilly lines are running through three consecutive closed stations: Caledonian Road, Holloway Road and Kings Cross,” he said.
Bobby Law also outlined one incident at Upminster Bridge on Sunday evening when an emergency alarm stopped the train halfway into the platform.
Unruly passengers began opening the doors and the driver retreated to his cab and locked himself in. Police arrived 40 minutes later with a supervisor who had been called in from his home to open the station.
“It is clear that London Underground attempts to run a network without adequate station staff is putting the public at risk. They can’t even keep their headquarters station, St James’s Park, open without using untrained staff,” said Bobby Law.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said the blatant safety breaches showed management desperation.
“We will be balloting the union’s entire London Underground membership for action short of strike action over these health and safety breaches.
“However, the union appeals to London Underground, even at this late stage, to postpone the imposition of these unsafe staffing plans in order to assess all safety implications,” he said. The RMT also welcomed the announcement of a safety investigation by HM Chief Inspector of Railways into reported breaches of safety regulations by London Underground during the New Year’s Eve strike by 4,000 RMT station staff.