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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 July 2007

London Underground derailment

Kick out dangerous profiteers!

JUST AFTER 9am on 5 July a London Underground Central Line train was derailed, trapping 800 passengers underground for about two hours. Passengers feared they were victims of a terrorist attack.

Reg Johnstone, RMT

It was not a terrorist attack - the passengers were victims of gross negligence by the notoriously inept private rail company Metronet. Balfour Beatty, one of many companies working under Metronet, had illegally stored some equipment. This had come loose and had fallen across the track.

But for the professionalism and alertness shown by the driver, there could well have been fatalities that morning. 37 passengers were injured and many panicked. London Underground workers, including the driver, were immediately on the scene helping and calming the passengers. Ambulance workers and fire-fighters were swift in their response.

All these workers have faced attacks on terms and conditions, and job losses, in recent years. London Underground are currently threatening to shed around 300 ticket office jobs.

Meanwhile Metronet has been making 1 million profit each week, despite providing shoddy and behind schedule work. It is now demanding an extra 2 billion to bale itself out over alleged overspending. On 5 July this company came very close to committing an act of corporate manslaughter due to their gross incompetence.

Metronet should be kicked off London Underground (LU) immediately. Its workforce should be brought 'in house' and all work should be carried out by LU.

Thanks to Gordon Brown and his 'public-private partnership' scheme, LU at present comprises a number of privatised companies. The unions and the public are in favour of London's underground system being brought back into public ownership.

Kick out the profiteers! Fight for a safe, efficient and cheap public transport system for the three to four million people who use the underground each day.

ON THE day of the derailment, a driver on the Central Line tube commented: "At the end of May a friend of mine was driving his train near Mile End when it collided with something metal on the track. The train stopped without derailment or injury and the metal object turned out to be a tool chest used by Metronet to store tools overnight.

"It should have been securely stowed in the crossover. The RMT demanded an inquiry into how such a thing could happen, but Metronet assured London Underground Limited that they were improving their storage system and it wouldn't happen again. The RMT request was denied.

"This morning a friend of mine was driving a train near Mile End when it collided with a large roll of tarpaulin which had been stowed, but not secured in a crossover. This time the train derailed at 65kph and it was pure luck that only one person was badly injured, though hundreds had to be walked to safety through the tunnels.

"It's the second time in three months..."

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In The Socialist 12 July 2007:

Fighting low pay, defending jobs and services

Victory to the postal workers

Public support for Post Office counters strike


National Shop Stewards Network

Bob Crow calls for new party

National Shop Stewards Network conference: A good starting point for strengthening struggle


Socialist Party workplace news

TGWU/Unite conference delegates cheer call for action on anti-trade union laws

Urgent appeal for solidarity from contract workers at the Gualberto Villarroel oil refinery in Cochabamba, Bolivia


Socialist Party NHS campaign

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Campaign saves Swansea hospital unit

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Durham health cuts show need for new workers' party


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Cardiff: Fight school cuts and closures


Tales from the council chambers

Nurseries campaign embarrasses councillors

Southall Labour councillors cross floor

Council workers make a stand


Marxist analysis: history

The 'July days' - rich in lessons for today


Socialist Party news and analysis

London Underground derailment: Kick out dangerous profiteers!

Kwik Save workers betrayed by bosses and union


Socialist Party events

Socialist Party Youth and students


Socialist Party review

Political discourse can swing!


International socialist news and analysis

South Africa: union leaders call off biggest-ever strike

Slave-labour scandal in China


 

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