DOO – more crime on rail

27 January 2017

ASLEF submitted three pieces of evidence – consultations and responses – over the festive period covering a variety of topics that affect our members.

 

The union responded to a British Transport Police consultation on how the BTP should organise its criminal investigations business area. We explained that, if the industry continues to shed station staff, and on-board train staff, through a push for more driver only operated trains, then it will only increase the potential for more crime on the rail network and may well stretch the force. We also called for members involved in suicides to be treated as the victims of a crime.

 

ASLEF submitted evidence to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee inquiry into the future world of work and workers’ rights. We pointed out that, whilst the railway has managed to avoid the increased use of casual labour throughout the rest of the British economy, this is becoming an increasing problem on the railway with smaller freight and charter train companies. We explained that, in a safety-critical role such as driving trains, this could have terrible consequences, especially if there is a lack of route knowledge or the hours worked are not recorded.

 

The union also responded to a Ministry of Justice consultation on Reforming the Soft Tissue Injury Claims Process about whiplash injuries. The government is seeking to increase the amount of damages which must be claimed through the small claims court from £1,000 to £5,000. Despite the misleading name, the new law will cover all injuries, including workplace injuries, and will mean that many more cases will come under the small claims court’s jurisdiction. The problem with this is that you cannot reclaim your legal costs from the other party if you win your case.

 

This means that whilst large insurance firms will have expert lawyers working on their behalf, claimants are unlikely to be able to afford them, and, if trade unions pay for solicitors, they will not be able to reclaim such costs.

In our submission we explained, ‘There are no benefits from these changes other than boosting the profits of the already extremely profitable insurance companies.

 

Claims in the cases that would be newly covered by the small claims court are down, suggesting the whole premise of the need for change is entirely false. In preventing cost recovery from many more cases that would come under these rules, due to the 500% increase in the compensation limit, the government will force many people to represent themselves against large companies that will have legal professionals working for them. Alternatively, they will simply not be able to afford assistance. In either case, access to justice will be reduced.’

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