Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/320/9661
Safety Not Profit: End Privatisation
IN YET another condemnation of the safety record of Britain's privatised railways, two tube trains were derailed on London's 'part-privatised' Underground rail system over last weekend.
Tube workers speak to The Socialist
A Piccadilly line train derailed at low speed near Hammersmith and two days later, the end carriage of a Northern line train came off the tracks near Camden Town, injuring seven people. People are worried that private companies put profits before safety for rail and tube passengers and for staff.
A tube driver on Northern Line Underground, a member of the RMT rail union, told the socialist:
"Jarvis has been booted off the maintenance contracts on the overground rail. If they're too dangerous for the mainline, why are they OK to take over work on the underground from in-house staff which had a very good safety record?
"During the firefighters' strike, London Underground said they could run the service without fire cover - they said the likelihood of a major incident was negligible. But since the firefighters' strike there have been three major incidents on the Underground.
"Drivers on the Northern Line are furious at actively being discouraged from reporting safety concerns. For instance, drivers reporting signal irregularities are being taken off the trains and given tests for drugs and alcohol, and being put through a humiliating procedure.
"The implication is that if they report signal irregularities they must be on drugs or drunk. This has discouraged other train drivers from reporting other similar incidents."
Workers are angry at the bosses' inaction. A Piccadilly Line driver told the socialist.
"The RMT are giving London Underground until Friday, 24 October to give assurances that safety inspections will be reinstated at the levels they were before 1999 when the private sector Infracos came into the Underground. If we don't get those assurances, we'll be in dispute.
"London Underground probably won't be able to give those assurances in that short time so there will probably be a ballot for industrial action on safety."
We give full support to the tubeworkers in their fight for safety for staff and passengers. The woeful safety history of the tubes since privatisation shows that the unions are quite correct to resist privatisation. Industrial action should be a vital part of that fight to lever the fat cats' paws off our tubes.
- Full support for the rail unions' defence of rail and tube safety.
- Strike back against unsafe working practices.
- Renationalise rail and tube transport.
- Run it under democratic workers' control, as part of an integrated public transport system.
Network Rail has been forced to stop using private contractors to maintain Britain's railways. Bob Crow, the general secretary of the RMT rail union, said it was "crazy" that firms like Jarvis and Balfour Beatty were stripped of their contracts by Network Rail yet were still allowed to maintain the London Underground infrastructures.
In The Socialist 25 October 2003: