Roll out of Covid-19 Lateral Flow Tests - Implications for RMT members

Head Office Circular NP/76/21
Our Ref: HSR/1/3
10 March 2021
The Secretary

Dear Colleague


I write further to my circular of 25 February, 2021 (reference NP/68/2021), which relates to members’ concerns over the efficacy of Lateral Flow Testing (LFT) particularly in relation to the intention of Network Rail to use LFT as a substitute for self-isolation regimes after an alert by the NHS Test & Trace App.

I have now received correspondence from Network Rail in response to our concerns in which the company seek to provide reassurance as to the efficacy of Lateral Flow Testing.

Network Rail note in their letter that following the Government pilots of serial testing, a more formal programme may be launched in the coming weeks. In connection with this, and in line with decisions of your National Executive Committee (NEC) on Lateral Flow Testing, I will be writing to Network Rail to make it clear that any initiative from Government on a more formal programme will need to be formally consulted with RMT before implementation. I will explain that our current position - that of no objection to the use of Lateral Flow Testing as a general screening or surveillance regime in the workplace on the understanding that our members participation is voluntary - should not be taken to mean that we agree with the “test and release” concept or utilisation in Network Rail or any other company.

Your NEC met on 9 March 2021 to discuss the Network Rail correspondence and noted and adopted the following report:

That we note the correspondence on file from the company and that testing for our members who have been contacted by Track and Trace continues to be entirely voluntary in line with this Unions position.

We further note that the general screening/surveillance testing programme for those who cannot work from home has been extended until June 2021.

Accordingly, the General Secretary is instructed to place all further updates on this matter back before this NEC.

Members to be informed by text and email.

Relevant Branches, Regional Councils and Reps to be advised.

I am acting in accordance with these instructions and will keep you advised of developments.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary