18 June 2014
RMT Press Office
RAIL UNION RMT today slammed Heathrow bosses for tolerating blatant union busting on their turf as the union prepares for a fourth wave of industrial action across Heathrow Express from tomorrow (Thursday 19th June) in a long running-dispute over multi-million pounds cuts that will hit staff and passengers alike.
RMT laid the blame for the action and the associated disruption firmly at the door of Heathrow Express after the company sabotaged ACAS talks and resorted to issuing blanket threats to sack hundreds of staff if they don’t call off their fight over a package of multi-million pound cuts which amount to an all-out assault on pay, jobs and safety.
Two days of talks at ACAS were effectively wrecked by Heathrow Express who refused to consider any proposals put forward by RMT negotiators, walked away before the talks had concluded and treated the entire negotiating process with nothing but contempt.
As a result, RMT has had no choice but to call a further wave of action, with members instructed not to book on for any shifts between;
• 12:00 hours on Thursday 19th June 2014 to 11:59 hours on Friday 20th June 2014 and
• 03:00 hours on Sunday 22nd June 2014 to 02:59 hours on Monday 23rd June 2014.
In a further escalation, members have been instructed to take refuse to work overtime at a series of key times on key dates.
In an aggressive and bullying move that confirms that the HEX strategy is simply about axing safety-critical staff to maximise profits, the company have again issued statements today threatening to start sacking workers involved in the action and pumping out fictitious timetables to the public while safety is compromised, and regulations twisted, to fuel publicity stunts which include highly paid managers dressing up as real HEX staff for the benefit of the cameras.
RMT Acting General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“Heathrow Express sabotaged the ACAS talks aimed at resolving this dispute and have now issued the most outrageous and provocative blanket threat to start sacking staff if they don’t call off the fight for jobs and safety on this lucrative and prestigious transport link. The atmosphere has been poisoned at Heathrow Express by an aggressive and bullying anti-union management and it is about time that the airport authorities woke up to what’s happening on their turf and the damage that it is doing to Heathrow’s reputation.
“The Heathrow Express staff provide an essential service out to one of the world’s busiest airports and yet the company have resorted to treating them like dirt. It is an outrage that exposes this company for the anti-union, greedy and callous bunch that they are.
“Our representatives put forward a viable framework for resolving this dispute and it wasn’t even considered by HEX who treated the entire ACAS process with contempt and that is why we are back out on strike next week. It is entirely down to the company that journeys and services will be disrupted.
“The Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect services are dealing with growing demand as the airport expands and the idea that safety and service is going to be sacrificed at the stroke of an accountant’s pen would shame London and leave these high-profile services extremely vulnerable. The CAA themselves have warned that the staffing cuts are a false economy which will hit revenues as service quality drops through the floor.
“The removal of on board staff, and the driving forwards of Driver Only Operation, would render services inherently unsafe and make evacuation in the wake of an emergency incident or terrorist alert an absolute nightmare.
“The planned axing of jobs, and the associated freezing and hacking back of pay and working conditions, is a kick in the teeth for the staff who have made Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect the success story that they are today. The staff have stood up and been counted and it is down to company to halt the cuts plans and start talking seriously about a safe and secure future for this vital London transport link.”