Union conference calls for progress on cab conditions

08 June 2006

Delegates at the ASLEF conference at Scarborough have called for major improvements in the conditions of driver cabs across the UK. ‘Why should we not enjoy the same conditions at work as office workers, aeroplane staff or even private car users?’ delegates demanded - as drivers complained of excessive temperatures, poor ergonomics, inadequate ventilation and excessive noise levels across the rail system.


In a day dominated by health and safety debates, delegates made comparisons between the often dirty, uncomfortable and distracting conditions in cabs with the ever-improving state of management offices. ‘We drive trains that constantly improve in all areas – with the exception of the cab, which is arguably the most important part of the train. To be uncomfortable and uneasy is not only personally degrading, it is also a safety hazard,’ drivers insist.


The union is also to call for agreements on needlestick hazards, calling for safe equipment and protection for drivers who tidy trains at the end of journeys.


It also pledged itself to continue its campaign on level crossing safety.


‘We heard a government minister yesterday talking about how much extra money has been put into the rail industry – but very little of it seems to have been diverted into safety,’ said one delegate.


The Working Time Directive was also discussed - and in one freight company 26 drivers were reported to work in excess of 48 hours a week.


The union also called for a new policy on TPWS overspeed sensors – and warned that failure to reach agreements would lead to a dispute. Delegates insisted that all TPWS overspeed sensors must display the speed they set on trackside signs and must be included in the relevant notices. Because management do not publish speed settings, drivers should not be penalised for infringing them.


‘If the system trips you, you can be stopped in a tunnel, which is a blatant safety hazard. It is time for clear guidelines to be established,’ conference agreed.

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