Strike threat over legionella scare

The RMT union has threatened strike action over what it has described as “potentially lethal” legionella bacteria found on Thameslink trains. 

Traces of legionella were found in seven toilets on four trains. Govia Thameslink Railway said the toilets had been drained and bleached, but the RMT said this was “half-hearted and inadequate”. It has prepared its members on Thameslink for strikes if urgent action is not taken.

Left untreated, Legionnaires disease - a lung infection caused by legionella bacteria - can be fatal. Initial symptoms are flu-like and can be treated with antibiotics. The bacteria are commonly found in rivers and lakes, and sometimes find their way into domestic water. 

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said the union had been raising concerns for weeks. 

“The latest cavalier approach from the company is pitifully inadequate and is an outright gamble with passenger and staff health,” he claimed. 

“We have now declared a dispute. Be in no doubt, if we don’t get serious action, we will ballot our members and do whatever is required to end this reckless approach to a potentially lethal situation.”

Thameslink Train Services Director Rob Mullen responded: “A very low level of legionella was found during testing in a small number of our Class 700 train toilets. 

“While it is extremely unlikely this would cause any harm, the toilets were immediately locked out of use. The trains were taken out of service and these toilets have now been drained, bleached and had their tanks completely re-filled.”

To read the full story, see RAIL 939.


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