Latest figures show that 57 transport workers in London have died from Covid-19.
42 were bus workers, highly exposed by their employers’ unforgivable foot-dragging over moving to middle-door boarding and additional distancing measures. Eight of the deaths are of Tube/rail workers, with three from Transport for London (TfL) offices, and three from outsourced employers.
These were 57 workmates, friends, family members. Each leaves people devastated by their loss.
On the Tube, a full train service is now being run, despite ridership being at only 18% of pre-pandemic levels. Only those workers who absolutely need to be in work in order to provide a safe, baseline essential service should be in. LU must ditch new guidance that implies Covid-related absence could be subject to disciplinary action, a highly dangerous approach that explicitly contravenes the latest policy from the national Rail Industry Coronavirus Forum.
RMT has rightly demanded temporary reductions in train services and the suspension of all non-essential engineering work. Staffing levels and shift allocation for station staff and outsourced workers including cleaners should be reviewed by local reps so the maximum number of workers are able to follow the government’s “stay at home” guidance, with no loss of pay.
RMT has also made other safety demands. And our unions should also take up a political fight for an expanded vaccination programme. It’s right that more vulnerable people are prioritised, but an expanded programme could also expand prioritisation by extending it to frontline, public-facing workers.
• More here