Our ref: HSR/3/2
Head Office Circular: NP/36/23
20h February 2023
To: the Secretary
SEVERE WEATHER WARNING – DANGER TO LIFE/ ESSENTIAL STAFF
Your South Wales and West Regional Council submitted the following resolution:
Three named storms (Dudley, Eunice & Franklin) hit the UK in the space of a week between the 16th and 21st of February, with the MET Office issuing two RED Warnings for Storm Eunice. A red warning means that risk to life is very likely.
Four People died. A million homes were left without power. Schools were closed.
Transport was decimated. The Humber and Severn Road Bridges were both closed for the first time in their history. Entire Rail Networks were closed as was the Port of Dover.
Our members across rail, road and maritime industries were affected. Many were stranded and did not make it home from work the same day. Others were significantly delayed. Many were neglected by their employers in unacceptable circumstances, and many have not been paid for the hours added to their shifts or reimbursed for the added expenses such as Hotels, taxis & toiletries. These storms and their effects were predicted. The MET office advised people not to travel unless it was essential. Yet, our members were told to come to work, often when it was not possible for them to do their job as there was huge disruption and widespread cancellations to service.
Severe Weather events are likely to increase in severity and frequency due to the effects of Climate Change. It is a question of when, not if, one of our members is severely injured or killed if we continue as we are.
This Regional Council calls on the National Executive Committee to:
1. Seek industry-wide recognition for workers whose roles fall under the Government description of “Essential Staff” to have severe weather events considered within occupational risk assessments.
2. Take steps to ensure RMT members are not penalised financially or otherwise when they cannot attend work following a MET office-issued Red or Amber Warning.
3. Demand an agreed hardship payment payable by the employer to any member where weather disruption results in an unplanned stay away from home due to being stranded at work (for whatever reason). Such a hardship compensation payment will also act as a financial incentive for employers to implement better contingency plans to reduce the likelihood of staff being stranded away from home.
4. Urgently call on the RSSB and Network Rail to review operational communications to rail staff in the event of MET Office Red or Amber Weather Warnings to ensure a simplified and coherent communications strategy exists.”
At its meeting on 9th February 2023, your National Executive Committee (NEC) noted and adopted the following report from its Health and Safety sub-committee:
We thank the Regional Council for their resolution.
We instruct the General Secretary to take up the action points in all sectors of the Union as per the resolution received from South Wales & West Regional Council.
Branches and Regional Councils to be notified.
I am acting in line with these instructions.
Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members.