10 March 2015
RMT Press Office
RAIL UNION RMT has today written to three train operators, Southern, Southeastern and Thameslink, along with Network Rail, demanding urgent action over assaults and abuse of staff caught in the crossfire of the continuing chaos at London Bridge. Staff have been threatened, had hot coffee thrown over them and been spat at as passengers take out their anger on the station workforce.
RMT has also revealed that concerns from signalling staff about the operational plans, well before they were put in place, were ignored and that staff and union input into the process was woeful.
In the letter to NR and the companies at London Bridge, RMT says:
“I write to express my concern at the current situation at London Bridge station. It is my belief that the planning for the major works LL09 Thameslink project was flawed and input from signalling and infrastructure employee’s and representatives was seriously lacking. No consultation took place at the planning stage and the dialogue with my members and representatives over the introduction of the plan was inadequate and served no useful purpose as the signalling staff concerns raised by union members in advance were completely ignored.
This whole affair and its catalogue of failures has placed my station staff in the firing line of verbal abuse and physical assaults from customers. I must advise you that it is totally unacceptable that my members have hot coffee thrown over them or are spat upon by irate out of control passengers.
The current situation must not be allowed to continue and RMT is demanding that preventative measures are put in place without delay. This must be in the form of increased staffing, increased management and all necessary support from the Police. I suggest that RMT representatives are involved in planning this and any future elements of the main project. Discussion with representatives, both industrial and health & safety, can prove extremely valuable in identifying potential problems and are essential if we are to avoid further serious risks.”
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“Our members at London Bridge are furious that they are taking the full force of the anger of passengers while those responsible are tucked up snug and warm in their offices. It is disgusting that staff charged with crowd control are being threatened, spat on and assaulted with hot coffee. We want measures put in place immediately to protect our members from this threatening and abusive behaviour.
“RMT is also angry that concerns voiced by staff who foresaw the problems at the station were ignored. There was a woeful lack of meaningful consultation and we are paying a heavy price for that now. That is a reflection of the fragmentation unleashed on our railways by privatisation.
“All it would take in the crushing we saw last week is for one person to lose their footing and the threat to life and limb is only too obvious. RMT is demanding action, not excuses and the usual pathetic buck-passing by the myriad of companies and contractors involved.”