RMT response to Government announcement on COVID-19 funding for bus industry

Circular No: NP/082/20

To: all RMT Bus Branches, Regional Offices & Regional Councils

03 April 2020

Dear Colleagues

RMT response to Government announcement on COVID-19 funding for bus industry

I am writing to let you know that today the Government has announced a package of funding for the bus industry in England worth £400m in total, in response to the ongoing Coronavirus crisis and declining passenger numbers.
The package includes new funding of £167m over three months, plus £200m from the Bus Services Operators Grant which will continue to be paid at pre-crisis levels. A further £30m, which had been earmarked for new services, will now be paid to Local Authorities to maintain existing services.

As you know, in additional to commercial revenue, bus companies receive income from local authorities for concessionary travel and for running non-profitable essential services. The Government has ‘encouraged’ local authorities to continue paying the bus companies for these services at pre-crisis levels. As you will be aware, the RMT had called on the Government to introduce legislation which would allow Local Authorities to run their services directly in the public sector.

The Government has said that a condition of the funding is that bus operators must continue to maintain services at a level which is sufficient to meet the reduced demand but allows adequate space between passengers on board.
The RMT’s absolute priority during this period is protecting your health, safety and job, and our response to the Government’s announcement makes this unequivocally clear. I have today written to the Secretary of State for Transport to demand a National Charter of Protection for all bus workers be implemented as a matter of urgency, with the following principles:

· A transition to cashless travel during the emergency wherever feasible

· Enhanced cleaning and sanitisation regimes on buses, buildings, mess rooms, facilities etc and especially on common touch points

· Toilet and washing facilities and hand santisers to be readily available to ensure that staff can comply with Government guidance

· Where screens are not currently fitted to buses, these to be installed to give drivers greater protection

· The safeguarding of essential bus services and for bus journeys only to be taken by essential workers and those who reply on the bus to access essential services

· Full pay and job protection for bus workers not required to work due to reduced bus timetables or because they are self-isolating or unwell.

The UK’s bus workers are playing a vital role in keeping other key workers connected with their workplaces and other essential services. This must be recognised by Government and steps taken to protect your health and safety during this crisis.

The RMT has produced the following infographic, highlighting key demands for Government and Bus Companies during this period - https://www.rmt.org.uk/campaigns/busses/buses-coronavirus-infographic/
Please download the infographic and share it with colleagues and on social media.

Please be assured that protecting members’ jobs, skills and health and safety will remain RMT’s absolute priority throughout this crisis.
Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of bus worker members in your branch or region. I will keep you updated of all developments.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary