Socialist Worker

London Underground managers put safety at risk as emergency workers strike

by Tom Walker
Issue No. 2207

“Tube drivers and passengers need to know that their life is at risk – right now. Bosses are playing with people's lives.'”

That is the message from emergency workers on London Underground, who are on strike today and tomorrow over job security and conditions.

The workers in the RMT union work for the Tube Lines maintenance company. Several Emergency Response Unit workers on the picket line confirmed to Socialist Worker that not one of them is working today. They all asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.

Managers say that they are providing emergency cover but workers dispute this. One said, “There could be an accident, a train could derail – anything could happen. There will be no one to rescue people.

“A few managers are working but that's nowhere near enough cover. We haven’t even seen the evidence that they’re qualified. They're telling drivers it's safe to work – but it's pure lies.”

Another worker added, “They always say it's 'safety first' but then they do this.

“We know there's no emergency cover because we're standing out here and all the keys are locked up in the safe. If it came to it they'd have to use station staff or the fire service, but neither have the specialist training or equipment. It's incredibly dangerous.

“Our advice to passengers is to stay away from the tube.”

Maintenance workers also struck last night and are still on strike today, meaning vital safety work on tracks and trains is not being done. This makes failures much more likely. And today is one of the hottest days of the year – but the engineers who usually work on trying to get the tube's temperatures down are on strike too.

A train breaking down in a tunnel, in intense heat, with no emergency response, could lead to fatalities.

Many drivers are already refusing to work on safety grounds. Others must urgently follow their lead. We need to shut down the tube network immediately.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.