RMT Raises Serious Safety Issues Over Tube Lines Strike

TUBE UNION RMT today wrote to TFL chiefs demanding safety assurances during the Tube Lines strike action next week after bosses issued statements saying that they will continue to try and run services regardless of whether essential maintenance and repairs work is being carried out and regardless of the fact that the safety-critical Emergency Response Unit will be joining the strike action.

In a series of cavalier and politically-motivated statements, Tube Lines managers have attempted to create the impression that the essential day-to-day work of tube maintenance and emergency staff is an irrelevance to the running of the system and have implied that they intend to ride roughshod over established and agreed safety procedures.

Tube Lines staff, including the Emergency Response unit, will stop work at 16:00hrs on Tuesday 24 April 2012 and return to work for shifts starting after 16:00hrs on Friday 27 April 2012 in a dispute over pensions and benefits equality and justice.

In letters to Mike Strzelecki, safety director at London Underground, RMT General Secretary Bob Crow says:

“I am writing to inform you that during the planned industrial action by RMT members employed at Tube Lines from 16.00 hours on Tuesday 24th April 2012 until 16.00 hours on Friday 27th April 2012 the RMT does not believe it will be safe to operate the tube network."

“During this period not only will there be no track patrolling or signal maintenance on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines but more critically for the whole network there will be no Emergency Response Unit (ERU). As you will be aware, in addition to the ERU’s role in dealing with broken rails, damaged points, negative earths, stalled trains, flats on trains and derailments the ERU are vital in dealing with the aftermath of suicides and terrorist attacks."

“Should you attempt to run a service during the period of industrial action I shall advise RMT members of their option to remove themselves to a place of safety should they feel that their working conditions place them at risk of ‘serious or imminent’ danger.”

RMT has copied the letter to the Office of Rail Regulation requesting their intervention on the safety issue and requesting an urgent report back. Pro-formas have also been sent to all RMT members on London Underground requesting reallocation of duties to a safe working environment where members believe that they are in serious and imminent danger as a result of the non-operation of the Emergency Response Unit and other core safety protection.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“Instead of getting round the table to settle this very basic dispute on the issues of equality and fairness for Tube Lines staff on pensions and benefits, the company have instead resorted to a barrage of cavalier statements that represent a massive gamble with the safety of both tube users and tube staff.

“Ignoring the hard reality that maintenance and ERU staff are absolutely integral to tube safety is extraordinary and we will not allow our members to be placed at risk as a result.

“This dispute can be easily resolved and posturing by politicians and tube managers does nothing to help reach a solution.”

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