SOCIAL DISTANCING - RMT's POSITION

Our ref: HSR/1/3
23rd June 2020
To all RMT members

Dear Brother/Sister

SOCIAL DISTANCING - RMT's POSITION


Given the continued 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.

Indeed, the government's own advisors have said that reducing social distancing to one metre will significantly increase the chance of infection by up to 30 times whilst the chances of Covid-19 spreading are increased in confined spaces such as train carriages and stations.

To be clear no agreement has been made to change any working practices or social distancing arrangements; the RMT's previous advice on social distancing remains in place:

• Avoid large and small gatherings to maintain 2 metres of separation between workers; and with the public, including when travelling in vehicles and trains; meaning that employers have to provide for single occupancy in work vehicles and for passenger vehicles, an isolation zone including zoning-off seats; and screens around drivers and crew.
• Maintain 2 metres of separation between all individuals when on task. Where the task is essential to the safe operation of the service, and cannot be performed with 2 metres of separation, then personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and goggles, masks/ visors and eye defenders to be utilised by all workers in close proximity to provide mutual assurance and the time spent within 2 metres must be minimised and only for the purpose of the task.
• If full appropriate PPE is not available then work should not commence.
• Members who have an underlying condition who are exercising “particularly stringent social distancing”, as advised by the NHS, should observe the 2 metres distance at all times and should decline any task where the 2 metres distance could be breached.

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.

The RMT will fully back any member who uses this process to ensure their safety.

In the meantime, the RMT will continue to actively and constructively engage in the Rail Industry Coronavirus Advisory Forum and ensure that our members' voices are heard.

Yours sincerely,

RMT Union