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The RMT has issued fresh advice to members not to work in unsafe Covid-19 conditions, warning that confused government messaging could have lethal consequences.
The fresh guidance to members across rail and tube is to refuse to work where safety is compromised. The union warning has come as it has become clear that the government is shifting away from the stay at home message, unleashing a surge in passengers on rail and tube, breaching social-distancing measures with potentially lethal consequences for both staff and the public.
In a circular to members issued on 10 May, the union says:
Your national executive committee has considered this matter and stated our total opposition to attempts by the rail industry and government to impose changes in working practices. We had only previously agreed to take part in a process to discuss such changes which had been intended to commence and be implemented from 18 May.
Given the 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.
To be clear no agreement has been made to change any working practices or social distancing arrangements from 12 May.
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. On London Underground they have the legal right to use the refusal to work policy. RMT will fully back any member who uses this process to ensure their safety.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
"This trade union will not sit back while confused and conflicting messaging from the government raises the prospect of a surge in passengers on our transport services, making a mockery of the social distancing rules with potentially lethal consequences.
"We are reissuing and reinforcing advice to our members not to work in conditions where their health and safety is clearly compromised. No employer should be sending their staff out to work in those kind of conditions and we are putting the industry on the clearest possible notice.
"We've seen the spin in advance of the prime minister's speech tonight. We are taking clear and decisive action now to protect our members."
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Article dated 13 May 2020
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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