22 April 2020
RMT Press Office:
RMT warns there is zero chance of agreement to government plans to increase transport services on 11th May in current climate as survey of 10,000 transport workers reveals widespread failings to protect key transport workers and passengers from COVID 19.
Transport union RMT warned today that there was zero chance of agreement to increase transport services in the current climate. The announcement is in response to information provided by rail companies that Ministers want them to be ready to ramp up the rail timetable on 11 or 18 May.
The warning comes on the back of an RMT survey of 10,000 transport workers which found widespread failings to adequately protect transport workers and therefore also passengers from COVID 19.
The survey found that:
• 4 in 10 transport workers think their employer has put profit or business priorities before safety during the coronavirus crisis.
• 1 in 3 transport workers think their employers’ action to protect them from coronavirus have been poor or terrible.
• Just 1 in 3 transport workers report that their employer has paused non-essential or routine work tasks.
• 1 in 3 transport workers have not been issued with any PPE.
• 4 out of 10 transport workers have no access to washing facilities and a quarter have not been issued with hand sanitisers.
• 92% of transport workers say they need to be tested for COVID-19 to protect themselves and passengers, but no such testing has taken place.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said;
“We are being told by a range of rail companies that Ministers definitely want to be ready to increase rail services at some point in May.
“Yet our survey of 10,000 transport workers has shown there are widespread failures to provide even the most basic protections for our members. If these are not addressed then a ramping up of transport services will also ramp up the risk to workers and passengers.
“To protect both our members and passengers I will be writing to the Transport Minister, Grant Shapps, saying there is zero chance of this being agreed in the current climate.
“We will not accept unsafe directives being handed down on high from the boardroom or the cabinet room. Transport workers are key workers in keeping essential workers and goods moving and that means they will be key in deciding when it’s safe to increase transport services.”
A sample of comments from transport workers are set out below in Notes to Editors.
Notes to Editors
Between Wednesday 15th and Friday 17th April RMT received just over 10,000 responses from members employed on Rail, London Underground, Buses, Road Haulage and the Maritime sector. Thousands of comments were received, a fraction of which are below.
“We have been overlooked; we are providing a service to protect revenue before our health, our families health and our well-being”
“Business priorities and profit are at the centre of this employer’s response to COVID-19.”
“If we're key, then we're vital to the nation. We need to be tested to enable us to operate transport services for the country.”
“Of course we should [be tested], as we have no means of protection being provided by our company apart from gloves and hand sanitizers.”
“It's almost impossible to socially distance, with that in mind we need to know if we have it so we can prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
“Due to the high exposure and current death rate of TFL workers I feel they should be doing both tests and providing PPE. On a personal note, my wife is classed as extremely vulnerable and I am really worried that I may bring the virus and infect her.”
“All bus drivers should be tested, especially when one of our big contracts is the NHS”
“It is essential to test those who are coming into direct contact with members of the public, particularly those working on the channel ferries (where they're transporting people from across the infected continent).”
“As I am working for an agency, they haven’t provided anything. This worries me so much as I have a baby girl at home but I have to come into work so we can get money.”
“We had to put our own yellow tape down in the ticket office. Same as on platforms, but customers still freely ignore the 2m distance.”
“We keep being told to wash our hands with soap and water instead but we do not have easy access to this on ticket barriers. We are asked to constantly deep clean but the PPE provided for this is minimal.”
“They have put (a) 'shower curtain' type screen (into a bus) that's no better than useless. It flaps around and brushes against you. You have to handle it out of way to get into (the) cab.”
“Given one small bottle of hand gel, asked for more and given a definitive NO!”
“We just want more PPE for staff… My wife is pregnant and I don't want to risk bring anything home.”
“Having suffered symptoms of coronavirus I feel testing should have been carried out on myself before returning to work.”