LT Health & safety

Fifth Crossrail worker dies

Published on: Sat, 05/10/2019 - 15:48

Workers on the Crossrail site at Bond Street have lost five of their workmates in the last six months. They have not been killed at work, but nonetheless have met early deaths in their sleep unexpected in relatively young, healthy people.

Five deaths in half a year is too many to be a coincidence. From a workforce of five to six hundred, one per cent have died. Working conditions are unpleasant and unhealthy, with dust, poor air quality, no daylight, anti-social hours, and management inaction.

After being told at Monday's briefing of their colleague's death over the weekend, many workers refused to continue working, and spent two days above ground demanding management act to protect their health. Two days later, they were given dust masks and returned to work.

The fact that they work for several different companies may make it easier for their employers to avoid responsibility, but it must not stop us speaking out and demanding safe working conditions. We often say that we are entitled to go to work and come home safely. But we are also entitled to go home from work and wake up safely.

Tubeworker topics

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“20 additional colleagues”?

Published on: Wed, 02/10/2019 - 16:11

An LU Employee Bulletin announces that, to combat workplace violence and antisocial behaviour on the east end of the District Line, LU will be providing “20 additional colleagues”.

Good news, you might think. An acknowledgement that lone working and understaffing are the fundamental problems. But alas, the reality is not so encouraging.

These “colleagues” aren’t additional LU station staff, but staff drafted in from TfL’s Surface Transport department – workers who deal with taxi enforcement and revenue issues on buses. They are not trained or licensed to work on LU stations. They have no ability to intervene in any safety or security issue that takes place on the station.

LU aren’t even putting a sticking plaster on a gaping wound… they’re rubbing salt in it.

They’re also putting the Surface Transport workers, who are fellow transport workers and trade unionists, in an extremely difficult position by using them in this way. They shouldn’t have to be drafted in to be spare bodies when what’s so clearly needed is additional LU staff.

LU’s woefully inadequate response to issues of antisocial behaviour and workplace violence on District East, at West Ham, and elsewhere, show that the bosses are more committed to their agenda of penny-pinching budgetary savings than to the safety and wellbeing of workers.

It’s time for action. We need strikes to win a safe staffing level.

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Action due in District East safety dispute

Published on: Thu, 26/09/2019 - 11:52

As Tubeworker went to press, industrial action short of strikes was due to begin on District East stations on 27 September.

Workers will refuse to attend incidents or detrain alone, and will work from a place of safety. The action came about after a spike in antisocial behaviour and staff assaults prompted the local union to launch a dispute.

The demand is clear: more staff, end lone working.

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Go slow to stop track noise!

Published on: Thu, 26/09/2019 - 11:50

After the excellent ballot result on the Jubilee, Northern, Victoria, and Central Lines, RMT has named action starting on 10 October in its dispute to end excessive track noise.

Drivers will impose temporary speed restrictions in affected areas, lessening the effect of the noise forced into the driver’s cab and the train cars.

That’s the kind of go-slow we like to see. We’re less keen on the slowness of the union’s decision making process. This action should have been announced as soon as the ballot result came back. The delay only benefits the bosses.

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Action Against Assaults

Published on: Mon, 23/09/2019 - 10:02

Staff across the job have been shocked to hear about the brutal assault on our workmates at West Ham station last Wednesday. Tubeworker sends our solidarity to those involved and is pleased to hear about the great support they are getting from colleagues. Not so much from management, though, we hear.

In response to this, we need concrete action: not crocodile tears, and not sticking-plaster attempts to use inadequate technological fixes to address the problem.

Concrete demands follow from the key issues in the assault:

- This station repeatedly has uncovered duties and people working alone on a gateline where they are vulnerable: so we need a clear commitment from LUL that all uncovered duties are covered, and that lone working ends - not just working alone on a station, but working alone on a vulnerable part of a station.

- This is also rooted in the de-staffing of stations over recent years. We need an immediate increase in staffing levels, through the recruitment of permanent LUL staff, not agencies or securiety guards.

- It was shocking how easily the assailant were able to kick down the door to get to the staff they assaulted. Flimsy doors must be replaced immediately (rather than the rolling programme that management have promised).

- We need a secure and accessible place of safety in every part of every station.

We understand why staff are asking for bodycams, but as CCTV didn't deter these assailants, so it seems unlikely that bodycams would. And we worry that management will use bodycams (or an increase in police numbers) as an excuse to refuse demands like no lone working or covering all duties.

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Submitted by Rabia Ali (not verified) on Mon, 23/09/2019 - 18:28

Couldn't agree more.. and it was an upsetting incident.

We were discussing this the other day that body cams will not help if assailants are not scared or bothered about the repercussions...

Its about time law got tougher for these hooligans or any uncalled behaviour as a matter of fact.

Hope the idiots are found and procecuted. Sending hugs to the our colleages at West Ham.

Rabia - Victoria Station

Submitted by Sandra (not verified) on Tue, 24/09/2019 - 17:54

I abhor lone working. However I feel you should also push for more staff on section 12 stations where there are only 2 staff required to meet minimum numbers. Please don’t think we don’t get abused daily and are less at risk. If anything we are more at risk. We can’t lock ourselves in the station office/control room. We have to be on the gateline .

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Take action against lone working!

Published on: Tue, 27/08/2019 - 17:56

After lone working at the east end of the District Line led to a spike in staff assaults, local reps began renewed campaigning against lone working. RMT is now preparing to ballot station staff on the District East group for action to demand increased staffing levels.

Workers will vote on whether to take action-short-of-strikes, in the form of working from a place of safety when lone working, and refusing to detrain or attend incidents alone.

The ballot runs from 29 August to 12 September. If you work on District East, vote yes for action!

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Published on: Tue, 27/08/2019 - 17:37

You come to expect the unexpected working on the Tube; we see all sorts and we raise one eyebrow and carry on. But one Friday morning incident in August has pushed our levels of incredulity to the extreme.

Peak time, 08.41 to be precise, on the Piccadilly line and multiple passenger alarms are pulled on a train in the eastbound platform at South Kensington. The driver goes back to investigate, discovering that one of the travelling public has curled one out on the floor of car 5. That's right, they have evacuated their bowels in the middle of a packed carriage, then to top it off they are now refusing to leave the train.

The train is now clearly not fit for service, but with the depositor refusing to leave the train, service control have a dilemma. Their solution is to get a CSA to sit in the carriage with the turd and its creator, and travel to King's Cross to be met by the BTP.

What we have here is another example of managers prioritising the service over our safety. There was no thought or concern as to the wellbeing of this CSA as they traveled to King's Cross, just a thought as to how can we get this train moving.

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Mindful bosses?

Published on: Sun, 18/08/2019 - 22:26

TfL has partnered with “mindfulness” app Headspace to give staff a free subscription. Headspace’s guided meditation programmes are meant to help us deal with workplace stress.

It’s a nice gesture, but it rings a little hollow when you consider Occupational Health counselling services have been slashed as part of “Transformation”. Despite frequent articles in Off The Move patting themselves on the back for how enlightened they are about mental health, LU still repeatedly put pressure on workers off sick with stress or other mental health issues to come back before we’re ready, and fails to make adequate adjustments for us when we are at work.

The main drivers of workplace stress are factors for which our bosses are substantially to blame. Cuts and de-staffing means fewer of us are doing more work, with increasingly fatigue-inducing shift patterns. A few sessions with Headspace isn’t going to fix this. Cutting the working week and employing hundreds more staff might help.

We have a grim sense of inevitability that at someone’s case conference in the not-too-distant future, we’ll hear a manager saying “no, I can’t accommodate your request for reduced hours, a seated role, flexible working, or time off work... but have you tried Headspace?”

Rather than trying to mollify us with a free app, why not take real steps to make our workplaces less stressful?

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Ditch the tabards!

Published on: Thu, 25/07/2019 - 11:49

As London faces temperatures of up to 40°, some of our fears about the extreme discomfort caused by having to wear a thick red tabard are being realised.

This entirely unnecessary and uncomfortable addition to the station staff uniform serves no purpose. As we said at the time of its imposition, the issue isn’t staff “visibility”, but staff numbers. Dressing us in red vests can’t mask the fact that LU has cut staff numbers.

We say: ditch the tabards. They’re simply not wearable in these conditions. No supervisor or CSM should be insisting that staff wear them. And if any Area Manager has a problem with that, let them try to discipline an entire shift worth of workers simply for asserting their right to be a little more comfortable while working underground in extreme heat!

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Safety over speed

Published on: Thu, 18/07/2019 - 13:23

At Farringdon, trains driven in ATO leave the station at 15mph. Trains reach 30mph within station limits. A faster line speed means a more frequent service, which is London Underground's priority.

Drivers are asking for trains to pull in and out of crowded stations like Farringdon at a slower speed to minimise accidents arising from overcrowded platforms.

Safety has to take priority over the frequency of the service.

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