Refusal to work because of serious and imminent danger (Emergency Response Unit)
From Steve Hedley, RMT Regional Organiser
I wrote to Gerry Duffy, Director of Employee Relations yesterday because of serious safety concerns that have led many drivers to refuse to work on safety grounds. Amongst the drivers concerns are the absence of Emergency Response Unit staff who cover the whole network and signalling technicians who cover the Northern, Jubilee and Piccadilly lines.
I told Mr Duffy that all the ERU staff to the best of our knowledge are on strike and have asked him for a list of people who are carrying out ERU duties together with a list of their licences, operational experience and competencies. This has not been provided. I have also asked for the numbers of ERU cover staff in place but this has also been refused. However, they did admit that there were less than the minimum 12 staff but more than 4!
I am therefore unconvinced that situations likely to present serious and imminent danger will have properly qualified staff on hand to deal with them. I, therefore, informed Mr Duffy that until he could provide me with copies of the certification for people allegedly covering emergencies then RMT would fully support anyone who refused to work unsafely and this remains the case.
In a letter Mr Strzelecki claims to have properly licensed ERU on hand to deal with the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines whose assets he claims are maintained to normal standards (interestingly he does not mention the other lines) but does not say whether the staff are competent as some competencies expire within three months if they are not used. This is why I need to see a list of names, licences and competencies for every alleged ERU cover person before I can convince people to deem this safe.
London Underground’s own procedures are very clear on the right to refuse to work on safety grounds LU standard 5-547 section 3.1.4 states that a workplace risk assessment will be carried out by management and a local health and safety rep and 3.1.10 further states that ‘You Can Insist on representation and if no local health and safety rep is available you the tier two health and safety council will be involved.’
Whatever the view of senior management the RMT will always support the right of the individual to refuse to work unsafely when they feel they are in serious and imminent danger. Your rights are safeguarded completely within Health and Safety law; section 8 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations, section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, etc and part V section 44 of the Employment Rights Act. This is no way constitutes industrial action but is merely the individual acting in a lawful way to safeguard their safety and the safety of others.
Steve Hedley Regional Organiser