Head Office Circular NP/010/20
Our Ref: HSR/1/3
8th January 2021
ALL REGIONAL COUNCILS
LONDON UNDERGROUND COVID 19 CHARTER
A report on working conditions on LUL has been considered by the National Executive Committee (NEC). The Lead Officer reports that new variant Covid is showing a massive increased rate of contagion which is having an immediate and direct impact on our members in LUL/TFL. We have been made aware that three members of LUL staff have recently died as consequence of Covid. There are many more staff isolating and reporting sick. We believe there will more deaths and some will be RMT members.
On considering this report the NEC adopted the following resolution:
That we note the report from our Lead Officer.
RMT extends its condolences to the fellow workers, friends and relatives of the three TfL workers who lost their lives to Covid in recent weeks and to all of those who have lost loved ones during the pandemic.
The emergence of a more transmittable strain of Covid 19 and consequent lockdown is of great concern to all RMT members working for TfL and London Underground.
The NEC is particularly concerned by evidence that the new strain is more likely to transmit through the air. We note demands from the TUC that adequate ventilation and a supply of fresh air from the outside is added to guidelines for safe workplaces during the Covid pandemic.
RMT believes that LUL has taken insufficient account of the potential for airborne transmission of Covid 19 or viral loads in sub-surface stations or on-board modern tube trains, which have no opening windows and rely air-conditioning systems to circulate air.
Further, we are concerned that elements of the RMT charter for working on TfL/LUL during the Covid pandemic are not being implemented by management.
RMT will not accept that safe working arrangements cannot be implemented because of any financial agreements between TfL and the government. Arrangements to ensure that only staff who are required to run essential services are deployed in the workplace were successfully introduced in the first lockdown and must be implemented again now. The demands of the government to open all stations and maintain unnecessarily high levels of train operations must be secondary to the safety of our members and essential public transport users.
The NEC notes that it was the actions of the National Education Union, its officers, members and reps, which has forced the government to accept scientific advice and close schools. RMT has no confidence in the government to do the right thing and minimise risk to tube and other TfL workers.
The General Secretary is to write to TfL and the London Mayor to demand:
RMT is given sight of any data or reports addressing the risk of airborne transmission of Covid 19 in TfL workplaces and especially in sub-surface stations and on-board trains.
An assurance that no member of staff who is clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable will be required to attend the workplace if that member of staff feels it is unsafe for them to do so.
An assurance that no member of staff will be required to use TfL, or other public transport services, to travel to or from work where 2m social distancing cannot be maintained. Key workers should be exempted from the Congestion and ULEZ charges.
The provision of an FFP2/N95 type mask for any member of staff who wishes to have one when working in public areas.
Only essential work is carried out at this time. Non-essential engineering and upgrade work should be suspended. Only staff needed to run an essential service should be required to travel to and from work and attend the workplace.
LUL must take these measures in order to minimise the risk of Covid infection and serious illness amongst TfL/LUL workers.
The General Secretary is also instructed to contact by text and email all members working for TfL, LUL or relevant contractors:
To remind members of the content of the RMT Charter for working during the Covid pandemic
To inform them of the demands being put on TfL/LUL by RMT in points 1-5 of this decision.
To assure members that RMT will fully support any member who exercises their legal right not to work in any situation where they believe there is an imminent risk to their health and safety.
All relevant members, branches and the LTRC to be informed.
RMT members have quite correctly done the right thing by keeping London and the country moving and the travelling environment as safe and clean as possible. We have delivered and now the Govt. and Mayor must come good or we get angry and fight.
I am acting in accordance with these instructions and will keep you advised of developments.