Friday, July 22, 2011

News roundup

Tube bosses to rely on volunteers during Olympics

THE TRANSPORT union RMT last week warned of dangerous consequences as tube bosses plan to replace station staff with untrained volunteers during the Olympics
The union cast a public safety warning over London Underground’s Olympic strategy for staffing stations as it emerged they plan to use “Non-Licensed Volunteers” to work throughout stations doing “way finding” – a coded term for crowd control – a skill and task that should only be carried out by experienced competent members of staff.
The main reason behind LU’s plan to use volunteers is their admission to the unions that they need an extra 400-600 Olympic duties per day to able to cope with the demand.
This admission totally demolishes the company’s case for dumping station staff posts and solidly proves RMT’s point that the 650 operational jobs shed by the company this year was a short sighted and dangerous move that has now left them desperately short of personnel.

Care home fire safety 'horrifying'

THE CON-DEM Coalition is eager to make a “bonfire of red tape” by getting rid of as many regulations as possible and reducing health and safety inspections. But this may well lead to a real bonfire of residential care homes and the people living in them, according to the London Fire Brigade.
The FBU reports that dozens of care homes across London have been ordered to improve after failing to achieve even basic fire safety standards.
After hospitals, firefighters consider care homes to present the single greatest risk to life of any public buildings. Residents are often elderly, fragile or mentally ill.
But 29 care homes in the city have been discovered not reaching basic standards since 2010.
The London Fire Brigade issued each of the homes – many of which were breaching the law – with a legal Enforcement Order, compelling them to make changes.
The homes were guilty of breaches including:

No fire escape plans
No training for staff
No marked fire exits

Green Party London Assembly Member Jenny Jones said: "It is quite horrifying. In care homes you have some of the most vulnerable people in society – people who can't move around quickly. It's crucial those homes have good fire safety procedures.”
But residential care homes are under increasing pressure from rising costs at the same time as local authority cuts in the grants they can give per resident. So the problem is likely to get worse.
Ms Jones said: "At the moment fire checks only have to happen every four years. I'd say there's a strong argument for having them more often – particularly in places where there are vulnerable people."
Six of the 29 flawed homes were in Croydon. All are privately run.

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