Putting safety at risk! – Aslef & RMT accuse London Underground

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RAIL unions ASLEF and RMT yesterday accused London Underground of putting safety at risk in its determination to push through changes in working practices, staff and ticket office cuts.

Drivers’ union ASLEF said: ‘London Underground has threatened to take legal action against ASLEF after we gave them notice that our members would refuse to bring trains into service that have not been subject to safety checks in line with LU’s own safety standards. Our lawyers are currently dealing with this matter. Separately, the ORR (Office of Rail Regulator) has launched an investigation into safety concerns raised by the RMT.’

Finn Brennan, ASLEF’s lead negotiator on the Tube, said: ‘Rather than sitting down with us to resolve this industrial dispute, London Underground are threatening to take legal action to stop our members doing their jobs safely by making sure their trains are fully safety checked before entering service.

‘It is now clear that their agenda is not to resolve this dispute but to force through changes, no matter what the impact on staff and the safety of their passengers. Their action today has grievously undermined the trust needed for talks to make progress and so made it much harder to avoid further strikes.’

In a circular to members, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘It has become so serious we have been forced to report LUL to the ORR over a series of breaches of safety protocol last weekend.’ RMT members have been instructed in addition to the ongoing overtime ban until further notice, ‘not to train or familiarise any London Underground Employee or contractor in any working practice/s that are not a normal, contractual and agreed job task work location of the trainee’.

In addition ‘All Train Operators and Instructor Operators’ until further notice are instructed not to bring a train into service that has not been prepared and safety checked by qualified personnel within the previous 24 hours.

Cash said: ‘We continue to try to resolve this dispute but LUL has failed to properly address our claim. Their current offer is totally divisive and they have completely failed to address the wider issues of your work/life balance caused by their reckless efforts to bulldoze through the introduction of Night Tube … ‘I urge members to continue to stand firm. The strike action called from 5th August is still in place but in the meantime we will continue to seek a negotiated settlement.’

• The RMT has slammed Southern/Thameslink Railways and their catering company Rail Gourmet for ‘treating low-paid staff like dirt’ as it was confirmed that the contract will be axed on Saturday at just four days’ notice ‘with staff dumped on the stones in the most disgraceful and brutal fashion’.

The union added: ‘Southern have said that the sudden termination of the catering contract is a part of the transfer into the new, expanded Thameslink franchise as they intend to run no more trollies on their trains even though they are operating services in excess of two hours from the south coast to London and on a number of other routes. Around 70 staff are involved.

‘In a further ludicrous twist Rail Gourmet have offered consultation on the dismissals on the 27th – two days after the staff have actually been sacked.’