20 March 2020
RMT Press Office:
The Trade Unions and industry leaders have held a further Rail Industry Coronavirus Joint Forum (RICF) call yesterday afternoon.
The RICF recognises that the Coronavirus crisis represents the biggest challenge to the UK and the rail industry in the last 50 years. The rail industry has a proud history of delivering in times of crisis and will once again need to do so again. The scale of this challenge necessitates exceptional measures to ensure the railway can operate in a sustainable manner and will require close co-operation and collaboration between the trade unions and employers.
The RICF understands that the Government has confirmed that they see the railways playing a vital role in supporting the country function through the crisis by enabling key workers to be able to travel to and from work as well as moving critical freight across the country. This has been recognised by the Government classifying as key workers those who are involved in ensuring the operation and maintenance of passenger and freight rail services.
To deliver the necessary resilience in meeting this objective, the industry will need to amend and reduce train service levels during the crisis. This will help ensure that services can be operated robustly for an indefinite period. Alongside this, it was recognised that the situation is evolving very quickly and therefore that the industry will need to be able to introduce other operational changes, sometimes at short notice, with the close cooperation of the trade unions.
The health and safety of all railway employees and the public remain our top priority. The forum recognises the need: -
i) to assure those railway workers who are attending work around appropriate measures to stay safe & also
ii) to provide appropriate levels of support to railway staff who are either unable to or not needed to work.
As such, the forum agreed to work collaboratively to provide further reassurance, where necessary, on these areas and to improve the consistency of approach for rail industry employees and in particular Train Operating Companies, Freight Operating Companies and Network Rail.
Further meetings of the RICF are planned over the coming days and into next week.