Archive article from The Socialist Issue 403
Tube drivers say safety is paramount
FOLLOWING THE 21 July attacks, members of the RMT union on the Piccadilly line refused to drive trains on those parts of the line that had been kept open after 7/7. This was prompted by managers saying the system was on code Amber, meaning that the whole system should stop with trains pulling into the next station and evacuating passengers and staff until given the all clear.
A Piccadilly Line driver spoke to the socialist.
OUR DEPOT'S initial response was to shut the job down because of the attacks. So the depot was closed, not on management instructions but because drivers took their own decision. All that evening management claimed Metropolitan Police had given the all-clear so we should go back. But we weren't reassured.
Our main gripe was about Code Amber. There were four small explosions on 21 July but they still ran the service on other lines.
With Code Amber you get your train into the next station and evacuate. There's a Code Red where you immediately shut down but you wouldn't want your train stuck in the tunnel with a bomber on it.
But the whole network is coming under attack. We say as soon as there's a major incident the whole network should shut down until we're given the all-clear. At present you don't know whether you're running trains with suicide bombers on them or not.
All management want is to keep the service running - which we do too - but not at the expense of Londoners' health and safety.
We're not marines, we're not firefighters, we're ordinary workers. We feel under a lot of pressure. We've been on high alert for four years now yet we haven't even had half a day's training on how to deal with a terrorist attack.
What does that tell you? They just want to keep the trains running. By not putting out a Code Amber they're putting everyone's lives at risk. They're just concentrating on targets and mileage.
There's extreme unease. Some drivers experienced the 1970s with the IRA. But today partners are putting pressure on drivers not to go into work.
We should be pushing for Code Amber across the network because they're targeting the whole network. But drivers are taking their own decisions - getting to the next station and detraining. It's quite a fragile situation - you could get depots shutting down at any time.
Drivers who've worked 25 years are saying they've never known such contempt by management towards staff and customers. I'm going in tonight and saying I'm not prepared to take a train out until we get this Code Amber sorted. I won't be the only one.
This incident where plainclothes police followed a bloke into Stockwell station and shot him. In front of passengers the guy just got shot dead. You don't want people brandishing guns in the tube stations, whoever they are.
AFTER THE bombs, managers have been gung-ho in getting the tube service up and running quickly, even trying to get tube staff to search for bombs so they can get things restarted.
By a Northern Line tube driver
On 21 July at my depot, Morden, many drivers refused to work on the shuttle service to Stockwell. After Friday's shoot to kill incident, many more drivers joined in the action. They were incensed that the tube driver, a Morden depot driver of Nigerian descent had been taken at gunpoint by plain-clothes policemen.
We are threatened by the bombers but now we have to work with professional killers with their blood up carrying out extra-judicial killings.
The unions are demanding that proposed staff cuts be abandoned, that services should run with staff and passenger safety paramount. The unions will back any member of staff refusing to work if they feel unsafe.
RMT considers striking
THE RMT union will consider balloting all its 11,000 members on London Underground and associated companies if talks due on security measures on 27 July break down.
The RMT described an earlier meeting with London mayor Ken Livingstone as "very disappointing".
RMT leader Bob Crow correctly calls for guards to be reinstated on London Underground trains. On 7 July tube drivers were cut off from most passengers and without radio contact with central control.
The union has also called for no cutting of station staff numbers, and that Livingstone's current plans to reduce station staff are dropped.
It also opposes any plans to weaken or do away with the minimum safety standards for sub-surface stations, brought in after the 1987 Kings Cross fire.
And the union wants dedicated staff on all station gatelines, with plans to monitor them remotely dropped.
unity against war and terrorism won't prevent terrorism marchers demand justice drivers say safety is paramount