As Transport for Wales rail services become dangerously overcrowded RMT writes to Welsh Government transport minister to demand the government “get a grip” and take urgent action to stop the abuse of rail workers.
RMT has written to the Welsh Government Minister responsible for Transport for Wales, Julie James, demanding urgent action to prevent further passenger abuse and mistreatment of rail staff because of a shortage of train carriages covering holiday/ daytrip destinations.
The union has pointed out the dangerous overcrowding is not the fault of rail staff and rail staff are not there to legally enforce COVID-19 regulations, which is instead a matter for the police.
In his letter to the Minister, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has urged the Welsh Government to “get a grip” of the situation to prevent further abuse of rail staff.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said:
“Rail staff have recently suffered unacceptable criticism and abuse from passengers on these overcrowded services.
“Rail staff are not responsible for the overcrowding and furthermore it is the responsibility of the police and authorities to enforce Covid -19 regulations, not rail staff who are already carrying out essential safety and operational tasks.
“What’s more Transport for Wales should not be operating services in a way that threatens the safety of passengers and workers.
“The Welsh government needs to get a grip and act on the steps my union is proposing to help prevent a repeat of these scenes.”
Notes to editors
Letter to Transport Minister below.
Julie James MS
Minister for Climate Change
Urgent action required to stop abuse of Transport for Wales rail workers
As you are no doubt aware from reports in the media many front rail line staff are facing abuse and mistreatment by passengers because of a shortage of train carriages dealing with holiday/ daytrip destinations.
As I know you will agree rail staff are not there to legally enforce Covid regulations. To prevent further abuse towards rail staff this situation needs to be managed and controlled by the Welsh Government, Transport for Wales and the BT police.
In their response to the media TFW should have been clearly supporting their staff and warning against any abuse or threatening behaviour. Instead, I am concerned to have received reports that TFW failed to mention that staff are not responsible or expected to police Covid rules and that they have other important, essential safety and operational tasks.
Both the Welsh Government and TFW need to act now and do much more to put a stop this abuse of staff. This includes
- Publicly manage expectations of passengers who may be planning to travel.
- Actively manage and provide sufficient resources to deal with the situation at stations and to avoid overcrowding and breach of Covid rules on trains.
- Provide sufficient alternative road transport if there is insufficient rail stock to enable Covid rules compliance by passengers. This back-up option must surely be failing if trains are becoming this overcrowded?
- Publicly reinforce that staff have important safety operational and passenger responsibilities but this does NOT include policing passenger adherence to face covering wearing and other Covid restrictions. This would be a distraction from other operational and passenger safety responsibilities.
- Every passenger should be given a leaflet to explain the TFW plan through the summer holidays and clarifying the role of frontline staff. It should spell out zero tolerance of any kind of abuse of staff.
The TFW response to date could be seen as implying its passengers’ fault for bad planning to want to use the train with their family and this can only lead to further abuse of frontline staff. A family with young children, elderly or disabled people may be trying to return from a day out and the train is their only means of getting home so they have no choice.
Many frontline staff are doing much more than they really have to in advising passengers, but some staff obviously feel very vulnerable themselves as infection rates rise significantly. Governments are now choosing to encourage a more free and open society, but we cannot disregard those who feel most vulnerable and at risk as they have a right to public transport as well.