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  • Writer's pictureFinn Brennan ASLEF Distri

From facemasks to duty schedules, LU are ignoring trade union concerns.

From facemasks to duty schedules to risk assessments, London Underground are simply going through the motions of consulting trade unions while ignoring our concerns.

From the start of the Covid-19 crises, ASLEF members, while protecting their own safety, have been willing to do everything we can to help maintain services so that essential workers could travel around London. But right through, we have been met with delay, prevarication, obstruction, and a failure by London Underground management to deal with us honestly and openly.

It took huge pressure from our Health and Safety reps before hand sanitizer was provided. It took a refusal to work on safety grounds before evidence that trains were being treated with anti-viral products was put in driving cabs. Only an absolute refusal to accept them stopped duty schedules that put members safety at risk being imposed.

Now London Underground have told us that they intend to revert to pre Covid-19 duty schedules from next Sunday with a major ramp up of services. They have not negotiated or consulted with this trade union on this; they have just told us they are doing it! We have not agreed any risk assessments for this; in fact, so far, we haven’t even seen any!

On Thursday, Underground management finally told us that facemasks were to be issued and that these would be of FFP2 grade. The masks being issued today are not of this grade and in some locations are being removed from their box and put into envelopes by hand. It is just one more example of an inept and ineffective management that refuses to be open and honest with staff representatives and sees trade union H&S reps as an obstacle to get around rather than allies in keeping staff safe.

Today they have announced that passengers are to be asked to wear face coverings. Simply asking, rather than insisting that face coverings are worn is a recipe for conflict and confrontation that puts the safety of staff and passengers at risk.

ASLEF have tried to work through agreed processes, but management are simply using these as a tick box exercise so that they can claim they are “engaging trade unions” when they are doing all they can to ignore and side-line your elected representatives.

Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace. When they fail to do so, employees have a legal right to refuse to work in circumstances where they face serious and imminent danger.

I will be reporting to the ASLEF Executive Committee on these issues and sending further updates to members.

Finn Brennan

ASLEF District Organiser.

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