RMT to ballot Bakerloo and Central Line drivers over detrainment procedures.

RMT has today served notice to ballot train drivers on the Bakerloo and Central Lines for action short of strike action over London Underground’s detrainment procedures.

Despite warnings that LU’s procedures for detraining before trains go into sidings or depots is unsafe, LU have refused to implement a procedure on the Bakerloo Line for physically checking carriages to ensure they are clear of passengers. LU is also insisting on bringing in the same procedures on the Central Line.

The RMT is working closely with our sister union, ASLEF, on this matter and both unions are balloting our members concerned with a view to holding joint action. A number of meetings have been held with management but LU refuse to give ground. Notwithstanding the union’s safety concerns for passengers trapped on trains, the RMT has also shown that hundreds of passengers a month are being over carried into the sidings on the Bakerloo Line and it is only a matter of time before a driver is seriously assaulted.

Ballot papers will be sent out on Tuesday 18th December with a return date of Thursday 3rd January.

The article below, from the end of October, highlights both union’s concerns and why we are balloting:

“The RMT General Grades Committee has agreed to ballot for action short of strike action driver members on the Bakerloo and Central Lines for a safe procedure for detraining passengers.
This follows a joint meeting of RMT and ASLEF members held on Monday 22nd of October to discuss the detrainment procedure on the Bakerloo Line. The meeting was addressed by RMT Regional Organiser Brian Whitehead and ASLEF executive member Terry Wilkinson.
The meeting heard about the recent near fatality of a 12 year old boy and that hundreds of passengers are taken into the Queens Park sidings a month. London Underground have set up a Formal Investigation Report (FIR) into the incident but this will not report for months and will more than likely be a whitewash. It was also reported that management intend to roll out the Bakerloo detrainment procedure to other lines and that the Central Line is next up for the introduction of this procedure.
The joint meeting, attended by Bakerloo drivers from both unions and Trains Safety Council, and Trains Functional Council reps from RMT and ASLEF, agreed that the current procedure was unsafe for passengers and that it was a just matter of time before a member of staff was seriously assaulted.
The meeting agreed that both unions would act jointly to bring in a procedure that was safe for passengers and staff alike. It was the view of Brian Whitehead and Terry Wilkinson that this meant trains must be physically detrained prior to going into sidings.
Bakerloo RMT and ASLEF health and safety reps also attended an ad hoc meeting with management to discuss the issues. When the RMT reps raised our concerns about the verbal assaults that have already taken place and that a serious assault is only a matter of time, LU's response was flippant to say the least. The meeting didn’t go well as LU proposed 'assault awareness' training for the line, a day with an assault awareness 'buddy', a DVA announcement as trains went into sidings advising passengers to keep calm and various other gimmicks. Totally unacceptable.
The RMT General Grades Committee met on Thursday 25th of October and agreed that action is necessary to ensure a safe procedure for drivers. The following resolution was agreed:
“We note that London Underground now expects Bakerloo line drivers to take trains into depots and sidings without physically checking that all passengers are off the train, and plans to extend this practice to the Central line.
This union believes that this is unsafe for both passengers and staff, and our view has been shockingly vindicated by recent events; in one 10-day period, 165 passengers were carried into sidings on the Bakerloo line by mistake. Drivers have experienced verbal abuse, and we believe that it is only a matter of time before a driver is physically assaulted.
Further, this is an attack on jobs, as it has led to the removal of station staff posts and is another move towards automation of the train service and deskilling of staff.
We note that London Underground's pretext for this policy is that new 'inner car barriers' make it impossible for overcarried passengers to escape from a train in a sidings or depot. A recent incident in which a 12-year-old boy was taken into the sheds at Queen’s Park and got out of the train onto the tracks illustrates that this is not true. Even if it were, there are other dangers associated with overcarrying passengers, not least of all the distress that it causes. This is yet another illustration that any new equipment should be used in conjunction with staff, not as a replacement for them.
PA announcements and flashing lights are no substitute for staff checking that each car is empty and then closing it. We demand the retention (and on the Bakerloo line, resumption) of physical checking by staff of trains being taken out of service, and the restoration of the station staff posts that have been cut.
We note that a joint meeting of RMT and ASLEF on the Bakerloo line has taken place, and that representatives of both unions have stated their determination to work together in fighting on this issue.
We note that our Central Line West branch has requested industrial action on this issue, that this call is supported by representatives on the east end of the Central line, and that ASLEF is balloting its members.
In line with this and with the recommendation of our Regional Organiser, we instruct the General Secretary to conduct a ballot of our Bakerloo line and Central line train operator and instructor operator members for industrial action, with the intention of instructing them to insist on a physical check that every car on a train is empty before taking it out of service. We note the legal advice received and the recommended wording.
We further instruct the General Secretary to:
- send a personal letter to all members involved, by post, urging them to vote Yes
- liaise closely with ASLEF to maximise the impact of a joint approach
- produce leaflets and posters for distribution in workplaces
- arrange for representatives and officers to visit workplaces
- seek media coverage of this issue
- produce a leaflet for the public
- obtain an urgent report on possible industrial action by station staff on this issue.”