10th May 2020
To: All RMT Rail and London Underground members.
COVID - 19 URGENT RMT SAFETY ADVICE REGARDING RAIL AND TUBE SERVICES FROM 11th MAY
Over the weekend I have been contacted by Network Rail who say they are planning for a possible surge in passenger usage on the national railway system on Monday 11th May as a side-effect of the Prime Minister's statement scheduled for 19:00 hours, 10th May in respect of COVID -19. These measures may obviously also impact on other rail services and London Underground.
Network Rail are already putting in place crowd control measures for their managed major stations and this also entails ending some of the temporary provisions and rosters for stations without appropriate consultation with your union at any level.
Your NEC today considered this matter and stated our total opposition to attempts by the rail industry and government to impose changes in working practices from Monday 11th May. We had only previously agreed to take part in a process to discuss such changes which had been intended to commence and be implemented from Monday 18th May.
Given the confusion and mixed messaging generated by the government in recent days, RMT has no confidence in the ability of the government to manage lockdown or its easing.
To be clear no agreement has been made to change any working practices or social distancing arrangements from tomorrow.
Therefore if two metre social distancing cannot be maintained we consider it to be unsafe and members have the legal right to use the worksafe process. On LUL they have the legal right to use the refusal to work policy.
RMT will fully back any member who uses this process to ensure their safety.
You should therefore ensure the following in respect of how you conduct your work:
a) Ensure any arrangements are based on train usage being limited to an average of 20%
b) Social distancing must remain in place at 2m. If there are essential tasks that must be carried out where 2m is not possible then agreed mitigation must be in place.
c) PPE- Surgical masks / visors are not protection from infection and are not mitigation for any failure to implement 2msocial distancing.
d) Social distancing must be possible in staff areas after any increase in services
I will also advise members of any specific local/company level problems that emerge so that further advice can be given as necessary.
The legal right to use the worksafe/refusal to work process stems from the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Employment Rights Act 1996 which state that employees are protected by law if they decide that their work situation represents a threat of “serious or imminent danger” and as a result of this belief they remove themselves to a place of safety. See also the previous advice issue to rail and tube members. https://www.rmt.org.uk/news/publications/railcovid19briefingv1/
Your union will continue fight to put your safety first and will support all members.
10th May 2020