30 June 2014
RMT Press Office
RAIL UNION RMT has today written to rail safety regulator the ORR demanding an immediate investigation into what the union says is one of the most flagrant breaches of safety rules and regulations that the union has come across in recent years and which involved the Heathrow Express Managing Director Keith Greenfield acting as a Customer Service Representative without the required training and competency in the latest PR stunt dreamed up to undermine the companies staff.
RMT has also demanded that the entire HEX senior management team be suspended from duty while the ORR investigation takes place. The company have openly admitted to the union that the incident took place.
In a letter to the ORR, Mick Cash RMT acting General Secretary, says:
“It has been brought to my intention that management at HEX have wilfully and knowingly committed a serious safety breach that had the potential to put staff and passenger safety at risk. You will be aware that we are currently in dispute with HEX over their plans to introduce DOO operation however this incident did not occur on a strike day.
On Thursday 26th June 2014 the HEX Managing Director, Keith Greenfield acted in the role of CSR without the necessary competence or experience to do so. The individual concerned has not received any training in the job for which he undertook, including how to act in an emergency situation. Mr Greenfield was briefed on the safety requirements for the job yet chose to undertake these duties even though he was aware he lacked all necessary qualification to carry out the task.
When RMT have contacted HEX to express our concerns the company have attempted to downplay this breach, saying it was “an act of innocence” and “in the best interests of Customers”. What he chose to do was in fact wilful and negligent.
RMT believe that such flagrant breaches of rules and procedures are one of the most serious incidents we have had reported to us in recent years. We further believe this indicates that the senior management team at HEX are not fit to run a railway and should be suspended while an investigation into these events is carried out by ORR.”
RMT Acting General Secretary Mick Cash added:
“This is a disgraceful incident that we expect to be fully and urgently investigated by the ORR and while that investigation is taking place it is only right that the entire HEX senior management team should be suspended.
“Although this incident didn’t happen on a strike day it is indicative of the whole cavalier approach to agreements and procedures that the company have taken throughout the current dispute over jobs and safety, where their focus has been dressing up for the cameras and lying to the public about the availability of services instead of resolving the core issues.
“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 halving of numbers, 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, abandon the dangerous publicity stunts and start talking seriously about a safe and secure future for this vital London transport link.”