28 March 2019
RMT Press Office
TUBE UNION RMT confirmed today that it will be stepping up the campaign for dramatic improvements in air quality on London Underground amid fears that the situation continues to deteriorate with serious consequences for both staff and passengers alike.
A dossier of issues raised by tube staff includes:
- A number of members suffering with respiratory problems.
- Station staff and drivers having high incidents of chest colds.
- Notable levels of dirt when washing hands and face during or after a shift.
- Station Assistant Train Services having to be suspended at Canada Water due to high dust levels. Other stations are also being investigated after RMT pressure.
- Equipment failing at London Bridge due to high dust levels.
- Reports of ongoing dust problems at Waterloo which bosses eventually admitted were due to track works.
- High levels of dust and dirt in underground facilities across the line.
Union members are driving through or standing in this dust for several hours a day, over a number of years. Recent reports have shown that dust 'pollution particulate' levels on the tube can be many times higher than the most polluted roads in London. These reports came from surveys which were carried out due to RMT pressure on tube bosses.
The Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants reportedly told TfL that,
“Given that there is strong evidence that both long- and short-term exposure to particulate pollutants in ambient air are harmful to health, it is likely that there is some health risk [on the Tube].”
The report shows that the pollution particulates found in just two locations on the tube included 'health significant levels' of particulates including arsenic, nickel, vanadium and zinc amongst several others.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“The air quality issues for RMT members on London Underground are very clearly impacting on the short-term and long-term health of staff as the reports from those forced to endure these shocking conditions make crystal clear. The levels of dust pollution are now at crisis level as far as the union is concerned and our executive has agreed to make campaigning on this issue a priority.
“For too long tube bosses have paid lip service to this issue regardless of the personal consequences for those exposed to the very clearly identified health risks. RMT is placing the issue back before the London Underground Health and Safety Forum with a clear demand that LU sets out a programme of action to address the union concerns as a matter of urgency.
“RMT is prepared to take further action as required to ensure a safe working environment for our members on London Underground.”