The National Union of Rail Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has asked UK PM Boris Johnson, to protect transport workers by keeping in place certain Covid-19 restrictions on social contact.
In a letter addressed to Johnson as well as Welsh and Scottish First Ministers Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon, RMT general secretary Michael Lynch demanded reassurance that measures such as the obligation to wear masks, social distancing and enhanced cleaning and ventilation aboard public transport would be retained.
“This week we risk seeing a bonfire of the very regulations that have protected passengers and workers,” he said. “As well as scrapping such obvious protections of face coverings we are also concerned that operators will want to scale back on other protections such as enhanced cleaning.”
According to Lynch, if measures such as wearing a mask become optional, it will reduce protection for passengers and workers alike, and create confusion throughout the whole system. The union has also demanded the UK Government avoid confusion when it comes to cross-border rail services
Any changes to the measure should be previously agreed upon with the workers’ union and not unilaterally decided at the government level, explained Lynch.
“Many of the Covid measures that are currently in place in the transport sector have been as a result of consultation and agreement with RMT and other unions and I would be grateful for your assurance that all measures to address the pandemic must remain in place unless, on the basis of the evidence, there is agreement with the unions to do otherwise,” he added.
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“As you know transport workers have risked and, in some cases, tragically lost their lives and the very least they deserve is for governments to support the principle that changes should be through consultation and agreement with these workers and their unions.”
The British PM will hold a press conference later today to delineate the final step in the roadmap to lockdown, despite 30,000 new cases of Covid-19 registered daily.
“We must all take responsibility, so we don’t undo our progress, ensuring we continue to protect the NHS,” the BBC reported Johnson as saying.