15 June 2020
RMT Press Office:
On the day that face masks have become compulsory on public transport London Underground union RMT has launched a Covid-19 charter for tube workers.
The charter maps a way forward for London Underground by workers who have demonstrated their commitment to keeping the tube and other TfL services running throughout the Covid 19 crisis.
It explains how union members want to provide the best possible service to workers in London but reject people being forced on to the tube without the necessary safety planning and before conditions are right.
The document calls for workers and their trade unions in every sector of the economy to be involved in risk assessing all types of work in each workplace before they are required to return to work. It says that workplaces should only be re-opened when the workforce agrees it is safe to do so.
RMT’s charter says that London Underground and TfL must be able to assure the union that different phases of lifting lockdown can be achieved without forcing usage above 13% of capacity, which is the maximum that can be carried while maintaining social distancing.
The level of services provided and number of passengers using the tube must be kept under constant review in light of any moves in the levels of Covid 19 infections and the R number. The ability of passengers as well as staff to socially distance must be part of this process, which must include trade union safety reps as well as management.
In addition to the principles outlined above RMT calls on TFL/LUL to agree the following:
• All individual tasks must be risk assessed involving RMT safety reps.
• Risks to BAME members must be assessed for their specific role and location and acted on.
• All staff at additional risk should continue to be accommodated away from the workplace. No-one in this category should be forced to work.
• 2m social distancing must be maintained. Face coverings are no mitigation for 2m social distancing.
• 2m social distancing must apply when travelling to/from work. No-one should be forced to use a crowded bus or train.
• Exemption from Congestion/emissions charges for TFL staff and contractors
• PE must to a standard agreed by safety reps. In public areas a clear visor and FFP2/N95 mask should be made available to any member of staff who wants them.
• Workers using LUL/TfL road vehicles must be able to socially distance.
• Social distancing rosters and reduced staffing levels should be implemented as widely as possible and be regularly reviewed by reps. Any changes to staffing levels should be by agreement. Where reps agree it is safe and necessary to do so, temporary staffing levels should be increased where the service level demands it.
• Plans to increase engineering work and train preparation should be driven by what can be achieved safely and while maintaining social distancing and not by demands to run a full service from government.
• Station staff must be able to maintain social distancing in all stations including in public areas.
• Station staff should remain behind glass as far as possible.
• Train operator duties must be re-designed with input from RMT safety reps to ensure social distancing, minimise risk and address the various concerns of train operators.
• Pay must be restored to all who refused to work because of fears for safety. The proper refusal to work process must be followed.
• All workers on TFL/LUL must continue to receive their full pay throughout this crisis. Whether employed by a contractor like cleaners and many engineers or self-employed like many protection staff – All workers who work directly or indirectly for TFL must be treated fairly. TFL should underwrite the pay of all when furloughed, laid-off, sick or isolating.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:
“The Covid-19 Charter for London Underground Staff maps a way forward for London Underground by workers who have demonstrated their commitment to keeping the tube and other TfL services running throughout the Covid 19 crisis
“The key message of the charter is that no worker should be forced on to the tube without the necessary safety planning and before conditions are right. The situation must also be kept constantly under review.
“London Underground and TfL must be able to assure the union that different phases of lifting lockdown can be achieved without forcing usage above 13% of capacity, which is the maximum that can be carried while maintaining social distancing.”