LU locks out drivers for upholding safety standards

Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 07/28/2015 - 22:05

A cornered animal can be dangerous. Today, under pressure from our overtime ban, still reeling from our 8-9 July strike and in a palpable panic about our next one, LU lashed out.

Seven District Line drivers were sent home without pay for exercising their legal right (duty, in fact!) to uphold safety standards by not taking out trains that had not been properly prepped. There's a term in industrial-dispute parlance for when bosses punitively send workers away from, or keep them out of, work: it's called a lock-out. That's exactly what happened to the District Line seven and that's exactly what LU is threatening the rest of us with.

LU threatened both Aslef and RMT, who had instructed members not to bring improperly-prepped trains into service, with legal action. Aslef have now withdrawn that instruction, but all workers are still covered by the basic legal right to refuse to work on grounds of safety. And it's not only an issue for us as staff - driving a train that hadn't been properly prepped (e.g. prepped by an unqualified manager, or not prepped for more than 24 hours) could risk the safety of thousands of passengers. This is how our bosses respond to our attempts to stand up for safety - lock-outs and legal threats!

The District Line drivers' action led to delays and disruption this morning. As the OT ban goes on, further such disruptions, as well as station closures, are inevitable. None of us enjoying inconveniencing the travelling public but faced with having to take unsafe trains into service or keep stations open below minimum numbers or without properly familiarised staff then any public transport worker who cares about the job we do will choose safety over "convenience" every time.

There is a only one way out of this dispute for LU. It must commit to halt and reverse job cuts, begin filling vacancies and taking on extra staff on permanent contracts, and reduce the working week to share the impact of night working and antisocial shift working in a way that ensures staff have some degree or work/life balance and passengers can rely on safely prepared trains, properly staffed stations, and a network operated by workers who aren't increasingly fatigued.

There has been some debate in the unions about whether to "escalate" our strikes beyond 24 hours. Management have obviously been having an equivalent debate on their side and have decided to go for it. Locking out the District Line drivers is a clear escalation of the dispute. We have to respond in kind.