No radio = no trains

Posted in Tubeworker's blog on Thu, 08/09/2005 - 14:34,

Or does it?

Oddly, LUL seems to agree in principle that it is not safe to run trains when the radios don't work, but in practice, the company is finding ways to keep the service running anyway. Anyone would think that following the bomb attacks, they feel the need to say one thing but do another.

You might also be tempted to think that the best way to deal with this is to fix the radios. Strangely, LUL seems able to put all manner of new technology into revenue collection, but is rather less successful at harnessing it to run a safe railway.

Anyway, this is what RMT Trains Safety Council reps had to say about train radios on 12 August 2005:

People may have seen the 'Internal Bulletin' issue by Tim O'Toole and Mike Brown around your workplace this morning. The main topic of the bulletin is the new train radio procedure, Operational Standards Notice 48 that LUL have, of today, imposed upon their employees.

The bulletin mentions the Safety Conference of the 27th of July. They make reference to a question about train radio where they state that: we had to change our practise of providing service without a train radio. What Tim O'Toole actually said was: we're going to have to provide a working radio, or we're not going to be able to provide a service.

What Operational Standards Notice 48 does is outline exactly how LUL do intend to run a train service with no working train radio. We feel this new procedure reneges on previous assurances given by Tim O'Toole.

Despite our concerns with regards to partial train radio failures, management intend to run trains out of service through an affected area whilst acknowledging the fact that the driver will have no working communication system.

This could make it unsafe for our members in the event of terrorist attacks or any train borne incident whilst in a section with no working radio The RMT have repeatedly stated that our position is 'no radio no train.' As a result, no matter how small the affected area, we feel that trains must not enter this section.

A question and answers sheet attached to the bulletin remarks that management are developing: processes to deal with staff that refuse to operate on the grounds of safety. So much for the praise that was heaped upon LUL staff after the tragic events of 7/7, for their heroics and the way they behaved above and beyond the call of duty. A month later and management are making veiled threats to our members.

You are reminded that any RMT member who refuses to work on the grounds of health and safety has the full backing and unequivocal support of the union.

Tim O'Toole's 'internal Bulletin' goes on to make reference to the Working Group that was set up to review safety procedures on the Underground after the events of 7/7. They claim the new radio procedure was: the product of the team's good work. This could not be further from the truth! The Working Group did discuss the issue of the new train radio procedure. We put forward our position and offered a number of solutions. Despite this, we were ignored and management decided to impose their new procedure. If this is what passes for the 'team's good work,' then god help us!

In light of their imposition of this unsafe procedure, we had considered our position on the Working Group. After discussions with a head office official, we had decided to carry on with our participation as we felt this was the best way to put forward the concerns and suggestions of our members.

However, following the remarks in their bulletin and their implied collusion between reps and management on the new procedure, we have informed management that we will not be attending any further meetings until we speak to our General Secretary at a scheduled meeting next Wednesday.

All the RMT Tier 2 Safety Councils will continue to fight for a safe working environment for all our members.

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Comments

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 22/09/2005 - 12:08

The company has now withdrawn threats of discipline, and retracted earlier comments that caused concern, so the unions have returned to the Working Group.

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