21 July 2014
RMT Press Office
RAIL UNION RMT said today that a month-long overtime ban on Heathrow Express in a dispute over jobs and safety, which came into force first thing Friday morning, is already having a serious impact with the company desperately short of staff to fill rosters and forced to restrict a number of key services.
The overtime ban follows on from a campaign of rock-solid strike action in a fight to stop a multi-million pound package of cuts, and the halving of staff numbers, which the HEX management are trying to bulldoze through regardless of the implications for both staff and the travelling public. The cuts, including a wholesale move to Driver Only Operation, take no account whatsoever of the specific evacuation procedures and the fact that the transport services to one of the world’s busiest and most high-profile airports are a constant terrorist target.
Over the weekend the Inter Terminal Transfer shuttle out to Terminal Four was severely restricted and a number of trains were running with only their front few carriages available to passengers due to the shortage of staff as a result of the overtime ban.
Heathrow Express failed to let passengers know that there were changes to the services as a result of the overtime ban and as a result there were crowds of disgruntled passengers at the terminal points demanding information.
RMT Acting General Secretary Mick Cash said: “Heathrow Express have been caught out once again trying to pretend that they are running a full service when in fact the overtime ban has been having a significant impact with a chronic shortage of staff to fill rosters, a problem that will only worsen as the month rolls on . The atmosphere of mistrust and misinformation at Heathrow Express has been created 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 and the latest action across HEX should force them back to the negotiating table for serious and meaningful talks. “The removal of on board staff, the halving of numbers 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.”