8 May 2020
RMT Press Office:
RMT warns of high risk strategy as Government torpedoes rail industry planning document and brings forward start of transport mobilisation to Monday 11th May
RAIL UNION RMT has revealed today that the Government has brought forward the start of the mass transport mobilisation and the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions to Monday May 11th. RMT is aware that the Government has requested the industry to be ready to begin a last minute mobilisation to accommodate an increase in passenger numbers from Monday – in reaction to the Prime Ministers expected briefing to the nation.
The move overrules a planning document sent to the unions only yesterday by the Rail Industry Coronavirus Forum, a rail industry and trade union body established to put in place arrangements to protect passengers and workers, which said the industry had only put in place services and arrangements to protect passengers and workers from a “not high” increase in passenger numbers at a later date.
The Rail Industry Coronavirus Forum says
At this time, the railway is still in PHASE ONE of the coronavirus pandemic and is running a reduced passenger service for predominately key and essential workers. There will be further phases as lockdown is relaxed.
PHASE TWO A -is likely to commence from 18th May and will be a stepped increase in train services. Subject to lockdown relaxation messaging, it is our current assumption the initial usage increase will not be high. This short phase will also allow testing and refinement of measures that would come out of the discussions agreed via the RICF [Rail Industry Coronavirus Forum] principles for relaxation lockdown.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said;
"We have it on good authority that only today the rail network has been put on notice to begin a last minute mobilisation to accommodate an increase in passenger numbers from Monday. This is earlier than expected and completely contradicts assurances sent to us only yesterday that the rail industry had only put in place services and arrangements to protect passengers and workers from a “not high” increase in passenger numbers at a later date.
"To overrule the rail industry like this is a complete breach in faith of the trade union and rail industry discussions. It is also a high risk strategy and RMT is deeply concerned that rushed political considerations could well override the safety issues for staff and passengers alike.
RMT will not compromise on the health, safety and livelihoods of our members and we will not agree to anything that fails to put the safety of staff and passengers first. If that means advising our members not to work under conditions that are unsafe and in breach of the government's and industry’s own guidelines then that is exactly what we will do."