To: All RMT members
RMT SUPPORTING YOU THROUGH THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS (COVID – 19)
The Coronavirus is a matter of great concern to everyone and I am writing to advise you how your union will continue to support you during this difficult time.
REPRESENTING YOU AT WORK
- The RMT will continue to represent you at work. This includes both our full-time officials and RMT lay representatives, including seeking confirmation from employers that they will continue to provide release to our representatives and utilise technology to minimise face to face contact.
- Our head office and regional office services will be maintained – fully utilising technology to allow home working
- The freephone RMT helpline will continue – 0800 376 3706
- We will maintain direct and regular communication with members through email and text.
- Members will be advised directly on how to best contact RMT as circumstances require.
MAINTAINING UNION DEMOCRACY
- Necessary branch and regional council business will be conducted by branch committees and regional council executive committees utilising technology
- Whilst all union conferences, including the grade conferences, equality conferences and Annual General Meeting are suspended these will be reconvened later in the year.
- Your full-time elected rank and file National Executive Committee will continue to oversee the business of the union
- Union elections will be maintained.
LOBBYING EMPLOYERS AND GOVERNMENT
Since the onset of the Coronavirus crisis we have witnessed a different strategy employed by the UK government from governments elsewhere. That has meant that employers, unions and other organisations have had to second guess what to do whilst giving assistance to members. We have raised concerns about the lack of direction and written to employers around our industrial and safety concerns. However, as a result of the fragmented structures of the industries we operate in there has been a lack of consistent response to our concerns.
While the union is prepared to work with government, authorities and employers on providing essential transport, maritime and offshore energy services for the benefit of our communities your union is of the view that our members engaged in the provision of those services should be regarded as essential workers and should therefore be provided with the full status and protection of that of essential service workers.
Below is a summary of the demands we have directly made to government to intervene in all of our sectors
- Transport and energy workers across all sectors, both directly employed, sub contracted, zero hours and in the supply, chain are essential to keep goods and people moving – this is more so during the current crisis. All transport workers and energy jobs should be guaranteed and their skills retained.
- Employment should be guaranteed through any downturn in passenger numbers and timetables, to protect jobs and earnings but also to protect the skills and the capacity to keep the UK moving.
- The rail freight sector needs protection and needs to be enhanced due to role it will play in the transport of goods
- A single unified approach is needed in each transport sector and coordination and integration across sectors.
- Public ownership should be a central part of the emergency measures throughout the transport sector to allow direct control to deliver the necessary measures protect workers and passengers and to and keep services moving.
- A complete suspension of these procedures during the Coronavirus outbreak and average earnings to be paid for workers who fall ill.
- Enhanced and best possible measures need to be taken to protect transport workers including,
- The transport network should be deep cleaned. Direct in -house control of cleaning. Cleaning should take place at the end of each service.
- Provision of hand sanitiser, gloves and liquid soap and toilet facilities available to all transport workers. Allow staff who wish to wear a mask to do so and issue guidance about effectiveness of different types of masks.
- Personal issue of disposable gloves (latex free where necessary) issued to all staff.
- Physical contact between passengers and transport workers should be reduced to an absolute minimum.
- Where possible a segregated area for operational staff
- No members of public allowed to travel if suspected of coronavirus
- No handling of cash, card transactions only
- Suspension of ticket examinations to minimise exposure.
- Installation of screens at all ticket offices
- Testing for Coronavirus, for staff who requests it.
- All vulnerable workers identified as having health risk should be stood down without loss of earnings.
- The unique nature of the maritime industry and its pivotal role in trade and travel needs to be recognised. Seafarer welfare arising from shore leave issues, travel bans, and cancelled sailings need to be recognised. The domestic supply of UK ratings needs to increased and be fast–tracked.
- With regards to the offshore energy industry it is vital that we maintain our power supplies and the skills to provide power when economic and social activity picks up from this sudden downturn. The crisis should not be used to reduce jobs, skills or safety standards
- The role of bus and road transport workers and taxi drivers needs be recognised as part of their vital role in the public transport mix. Urgent action needs to take place to discuss what measures can be put in place to protect workers from the virus and protection from any downturn.
The above represents a broad summary of RMT concerns in a fast-moving situation. Our members and reps continue to feed through issues which will be raised with government and employers. We will also work with our sister unions to achieve our aims.
I will keep you advised of developments.