LUL have sent out a Bulletin regarding Section 15 Possessions and the Keystone Cop approach to safety. Here is our reply
NOT Frequently Asked Questions – Section 15 Possession Protection
To: RMT Members ONLY
Date: 2nd February 2016
I know nothing about Section 15. What is it?
Section 15 is one several possession protection methods in the various LU Rule Book 15’s. The difference with this protection method is that it is aimed at undermining the need to book out with the Track Access Controllers by booking on with god knows who on the night and remove the need for professional Protection Masters directly looking after you and your track access.
How does the Possession Master find out that the last train has gone and traction current has been switched off?
The Service Controllers (SC) are being balloted over this very issue. The awareness of last trains is clearly defined in Protection Master training and everyone knows what to do if they miss the last one. The Protection Master is therefore certain that it is safe to allow staff onto the track. It is about trying to save money and nothing to do with safety.
Does Section 15 change engineering staff access to possession worksites?
The amazing thing is that LUL seem to be claiming that it is NOT only Section 15 Possessions that are dangerous, they ALL are. Let us be clear, Section 15 Possessions are aimed at undermining our safe system of work that we would currently do with a Protection Master and Booking out with a Track Access Controller
Isn’t Section 15 just another way of adding ad hoc work into engineering hours?
Yes, of course it is. Section 15 fundamentally changes the way we access the track. We book on with a Lead SPC, or his mate or whoever eventually answers the various phone numbers that we are given. It is not a safety critical role and these possessions are being used to cover large track areas for general and unplanned work. These are instead of the Track Access Controllers with a Safe System of Work and therefore not an enhancement to access but a step backwards
It seems like Section 15 was rushed into use without proper consideration or testing.
Section 15 was indeed rushed in. Yes, it went through the same LUL processes that allowed a Rail Grinder to work on the Northern Line without a proper breaking system. The talks with the RMT were a sham and LUL imposed the procedure half way through them. Any incident within a Section 15 Possession is always declared as ‘not their fault’ and there was many recorded incidents. LUL could not even say whether staff had the correct certification because they failed to audit or control the process. It was not a trial, it was an imposition
Isn’t Section 15 just about increasing efficiency?
Yes, it’s purely about saving money. They save money by ending the tried and tested role of the Track Access Controller. They save money by removing Protection Masters from each gang. YES that will hit you in the pocket, no £10 per shift on LUL and wave goodbye to the £1000 a year on Tube Lines. This is about working to the limit without training and without control.
I’ve heard that Section 15 is safer for protection staff accessing the track. Why?
OMG does anyone really believe this is a real question and not a made up one from LUL employment relations team? Removal of the safety critical role of the Protection Master and replacing it with an adhoc and poorly or untrained Lead Site Person in Charge is not progress. The whole problem with Section 15 is that it introduces human error into a safe sytem that was compueterised and well understood. We rely on memory, we rely on someone telling us the train is moving, that we are safe, that we are even there. There has been several slips where people could have died. The truth is, we do not ballot lightly, we are not asking for any gain, we are only asking to come to work, do our jobs and go home ALIVE
Can the current be recharged after the published time?
YES, if the Service manager makes a mistake, and we all do when we are tired, then the only way to contact you is through a faceless Possession Master with many groups to control.
Haven’t there been recent safety incidents with Section 15?
Yes, there has. There has been many. Every incident is either covered up or described as a ‘nothing to do with Section 15’. When LUL have been asked, would this have happened if we had booked out through the track access controllers, we are met with silence
What was the cause of the incident in December?
There was a major incident where staff were incorrectly authorised and nearly accessed the track as a train was coming into the section. The confusion came because there was more than one Section 15 Possession and the Lead SPC from the wrong area gave permission to access the track. LUL argued that this was not a near hit because they did not access the track! Again there was no use for this Section 15 Possession and this incident would NEVER have happened if normal Track Access Arrangements had been in place. There have been briefings, very poor ones leaving people none the wiser at the end of them! Why not just properly TRAIN people. LUL say that if you would like more information please contact your manager. We say do that too because most of them do NOT have a clue either because they have not been trained either.
If I want more information about Section 15 where can I find it?
LUL have produced a propaganda film so please watch it. It is available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElpkR5c3uig and would be funny if it was not such a serious issue.
Every journey matters and so does the lives of every track worker
UNITY IS LIFE