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RMT plans strike at London Bridge over staff assault incident

Union RMT yesterday announced strikes on the London Underground on 7 May as part of an escalation of its dispute with TfL over “London Bridge Three”.

RMT threatened action last month after one member of staff was allegedly sacked and two others disciplined for their handling of an incident on the Tube.

According to the union, a passenger who had not paid their fare assaulted the three members of staff, including one worker who was reportedly pregnant.

Despite this, one member of staff was subsequently sacked for “inciting or provoking a violent incident” while the other two were given 52-week final warnings.

However, representatives from LU have stated that this version of events is “simply untrue”. Brian Woodhead, its operations director, said: “CCTV footage from a number of different angles clearly shows a staff member displaying unacceptable conduct when dealing with a member of the public.”

He added that the member of staff in question was dismissed following a “full and thorough” investigation by LU into the incident. 

“We have subsequently invited the general secretary of the union to view the footage himself, but our invitation has not been accepted,” Woodhead argued.

“That offer is still open and, while we intend to keep London Bridge station open throughout the strike, I encourage the RMT leadership to do the right thing and call off this unjustifiable industrial action.”

RMT will now ballot its members across the Tube network, though strikes are not expected across the whole LU network. Industrial action is planned from 10pm on 7 May, lasting for 24 hours. All members at London Bridge are also set to take a number of actions short of strike from 8 May, including not servicing any ticket machines and not challenging customers who refuse to produce a valid ticket or Oyster card.

The union’s outspoken general secretary, Mick Cash, said: “This is one of the most appalling abuses of the LU disciplinary procedure that RMT has ever come across.

“This was a shocking, violent incident and those that bore the brunt of it should have been supported and commended by the company. Instead they have been sacked or disciplined in what is the most appalling multiple miscarriage of justice.”

Cash also accused LU of “flouting” its own zero tolerance policy and not fulfilling its duty of care to staff, arguing that LU’s response had “sent out a message to fare dodgers and yobbos that staff can be treated as punch bags with impunity”.

“That is an outrage that has enraged every single Tube employee who risks their neck on the stations and platforms against a backdrop of a growing pattern of abuse and violence,” Cash argued. “It is also an insult to the 3 million Tube users who pay their fares without expecting a free ride.”

The RMT has demanded LU to reinstate the member of staff and also lift the disciplinary action from the other two employees.

This development follows the union calling off strike action on the Night Tube last month after LU caved in to demands surrounding a staffing issue.

Top Image: Dominic Lipinski, PA Images

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J, Leicester   04/05/2017 at 14:38

With them on this one, for once. Rail staff across the country get dogs abuse for doing their job a lot of the time - the lack of respect from passengers, especially those trying to faredodge, is shocking. It says it all how endemic it is to the system that so many "revenue enforcement officers" accompanied by BTP are now regularly deployed across the network to protect guards. Regardless of whose version of events is correct (as with most other incidents of this sort, I imagine it's less black and white than it's made out to be), this is the sort of thing the RMT should be highlighting - not fighting losing battles against DOO.

Jimbo   04/05/2017 at 22:01

Why don't the RMT want to see the evidence ? Whilst it is unacceptable for rail staff to be abused by passengers, and more should be done to protect them, that doesn't give them carte blanche to abuse passengers back. It is the RMT's job to look after their members, but if they are supporting unacceptable behavior from their members, then they are no better than the abusive passengers. Because the RMT don't want to see the evidence, I am more likely to trust LU management.

Lutz   05/05/2017 at 01:23

So much for the RMT's claims that Passenger safety is it's priority.

James Palma   05/05/2017 at 12:15

Railnews did not report the other proposed RMT strikes. These are over the fact that LU management bought PGtips tea bags instead of Yorkshire Tea!!! Disgusting!!! And yes, I am being facetious. BTW, does mick Cash NOT get paid parts of his salary whenever his members are on strike?

Neil Palmer   06/05/2017 at 03:50

Jimbo is right on the mark with this one. There's video evidence, but Cash won't view it because the evidence won't support his insane ranting. Based on the ridiculous ongoing battle over DCO (particularly continuing it on Southern, where the battle has been lost, most trains are already DCO, and most RMT members are now ignoring strike calls) we already know that Cash doesn't think the laws of common sense (or progress) apply to him and the RMT. Now he thinks the law of the land doesn't apply to the RMT either.

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