LONDON UNDERGROUND COVID-19 CHARTER
At its meeting on 11th June 2020, your NEC noted and adoped the following report::
That we note and adopt the demands of the charter contained in the lead officer’s report. The file, “Imposition of Covid-19 Roster – London Underground (LUL8/2), is to be linked to this file.
The NEC applauds the LUL functional and safety council reps, lead officer and all involved in drawing up these demands and commits to providing all possible assistance to the reps and members on TFL/LUL in fighting to maintain a safe workplace during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Members, branches and LTRC to be informed.
I reproduce below the Covid-19 Charter:
RMT members have demonstrated our commitment to keeping the tube and other TfL services running throughout the Covid 19 crisis. We want to provide the best possible service to workers in London but we reject workers being forced on to the tube without the necessary safety planning and before conditions are right.
In every sector of the economy workers and their trade unions should be involved in risk assessing all types of work in each workplace before they are required to return to work. Workplaces should only be re-opened when the workforce agrees it is safe to do so. London Underground and TfL must be able to assure us that different phases of lifting lockdown can be achieved without forcing usage above 13% of capacity, which is the maximum we can carry while maintaining social distancing.
The level of services provided and number of passengers using the tube must be kept under constant review in light of any moves in the levels of Covid 19 infections and the R number. The ability of passengers as well as staff to socially distance must be part of this process, which must include trade union safety reps as well as management.
In addition to the principles outlined above we call on TFL/LUL to agree the following:
• All individual tasks must be risk assessed involving RMT safety reps.
• Risks to BAME members must be assessed for their specific role and location and acted on.
• All staff at additional risk should continue to be accommodated away from the workplace. No-one in this category should be forced to work.
• 2m social distancing must be maintained. Face coverings are no mitigation for 2m social distancing.
• 2m social distancing must apply when travelling to/from work. No-one should be forced to use a crowded bus or train.
• Exemption from Congestion/emissions charges for TFL staff and contractors
• PE must to a standard agreed by safety reps. In public areas a clear visor and FFP2/N95 mask should be made available to any member of staff who wants them.
• Workers using LUL/TfL road vehicles must be able to socially distance.
• Social distancing rosters and reduced staffing levels should be implemented as widely as possible and be regularly reviewed by reps. Any changes to staffing levels should be by agreement. Where reps agree it is safe and necessary to do so, temporary staffing levels should be increased where the service level demands it.
• Plans to increase engineering work and train preparation should be driven by what can be achieved safely and while maintaining social distancing and not by demands to run a full service from government.
• Station staff must be able to maintain social distancing in all stations including in public areas.
• Station staff should remain behind glass as far as possible.
• Train operator duties must be re-designed with input from RMT safety reps to ensure social distancing, minimise risk and address the various concerns of train operators.
• Pay must be restored to all who refused to work because of fears for safety. The proper refusal to work process must be followed.
• All workers on TFL/LUL must continue to receive their full pay throughout this crisis. Whether employed by a contractor like cleaners and many engineers or self-employed like many protection staff – All workers who work directly or indirectly for TFL must be treated fairly. TFL should underwrite the pay of all when furloughed, laid-off, sick or isolating.
I wish to add my gratitude to the LUL functional and safety council reps, lead officer and all involved in drawing up these demands and I give my commitment to providing all possible assistance to the reps and members on TFL/LUL in fighting to maintain a safe workplace during the Covid-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 related issues
|Track and Signals Tier 2:||General discussions on a full return to work and continued safe practices.
· Risk Assessments are either done or in process.
· Looking at sharing best practice around areas.
· Looking at fire doors being automatically released in the event of a fire (trial being undertaken) so that they can be left open for Covid-19 ventilation.
· Vehicle access and social isolation being looked at.
· SOO waivers being investigate as to what has been changed and why no consultation.
· Still problems on the MET such as petrol payment and issues with annual leave and looking at best practice across all areas. Still very quiet.
· LUOH RA are poor and needs TU involvement and telling people to return to work asap. Very poor quality health survey
· Need to look at accommodation for full return of staff to accommodate social distancing.
· Asked to amend times for start times at Stratford to avoid peak travel (approx. 7am to 9am)
· Zoono paper reports that it is not effective was raised and denied by LUL. Our view is we see this as part of a safe system of work plus we need a better system for tracking the work done.
· Vehicle shielding being trialled at Baker Street and details to be shared.
· Joint meeting with Trains Safety Council to discuss Cab Access.
|Signals Incident||General discussions on a full return to work and continued safe practices.
· Work TO scheme agreement ready for sign off by Simon Milburn.
· DSIMs back at work, need to chase up.
· Need to get the JNP reps invited to Covid Updates ref SMD.
· Train Cab access process just being agreed and let train side know what we need for safe access. More help from the train reps would be useful
· JNP signals still waiting for the return of the risk assessments. DSIMs happy to work closely together and ignore 2m social distancing
· Stopping of fuel payments
· Training concerns that there was excessive travel as the managers was not obtaining joining instructions near where people work. Courses to be arranged as best as possible to be near where staff are living.
|Track Projects||Move back to full restart however now lack of management consultation on issues. This is being dealt with.
Looking at workshop return.
Furloughed staff to all be returned by September. 4 staff flagged as RED
LUBE returning to a 23:00 start and can socially distance.
Track Workshops to return 5 days a week due to increase in work
|LUL Track||Not all staff did reduced days and some areas now struggling to complete all work
Running smoothly and not being asked to move to a full return.
Bloo ‘Q’ Grades looking to be returned for 5 days.
Meeting took place with D Weir stated it was contractual and the workplace safe (Perspex etc). We have requested the risk assessments for those grades.
|R&E/ TLL & Stations||Little happening and no change
· Vast majority of staff furloughed with no sign of any return to station upgrade work being restarted
|Stations & Civils||General discussions on a full return to work and continued safe practices. COVID bolt on to define essential and non-essential work. Certain works now going ahead and have the support of local managers in going forward.
Awaiting for management to agree new COMMs roster, slow progress
|TAC||Portal was implemented without discussions and looks like it is to stay and aimed at doing away with team leaders. Still to be discussed with the RMT. No training and woolly instructions on NEPA. Zero communications with the senior management, only via bulletins. Issue was challenged and was told this was to deal with COVID however, this has been expanded now to also include exclusion areas etc. End users also need to pursue this issue. 7 ON and 7 OFF system working well as is the back up location and will continue for another few months. T&S Tier 2 and Safety Forum has had the issue on its agenda and that the RO and Staff side sec will chase them up.|
|Apprentices||Will all be given jobs and will be given the opportunity to complete the apprenticeship. Some retention issues in R&E being resolved. Apprenticeship being extended through to next April to complete the apprenticeship.
Concerns regarding the safe return of apprentices into the work place. Talks meant to be occurring at local level. Issue of MET line being dealt with and already raised. Rep has approached both the MET Signals and the Apprentice unit. Talks have occurred on the District Signals.
|TLL Signals||General discussions on a full return to work and continued safe practices. Issues with BAME risk assessments and Works TOs in incident. No significant change. Bi-weekly meetings with S Milburn. No push to reopen depots but still maintaining single cover. Issue of so called guidance released at Signal Works dealt with and explained not for the present date and was guidance for the start of the covid crisis for potential ideas on safe working.
Also issues with social working at most depots and especially certain depots which has led to an eIRF and refusal to work being lodged. Staff not distancing and wearing masks. Management refusing to do leadership and take control of the situation. Issues at SMD regarding the above and lack of union representation. Inspection being undertaken tonight. Simon Milburn to put out company guidance against complacency.
Still issues getting wall mounted hand sanitisers at all locations. Need to show that other staff are attending to get it installed (via Risk Assessment). Need to collate best practice.
|Tampers and ETOs||Returned to normal from the 24th August 2020.|
|TLL Escalator Maintenance||Work returned to normal. Face fitted masks etc|
|Annual Leave||LUL company policy still refusing to the carryover of up to 20 days leave.
‘The carry over arrangements announced by Government recently, state that employees may carry forward up to four weeks’ holiday where it is not reasonably practicable for them to take it in the annual leave year due to effects of COVID-19. This does not mean that there is an automatic entitlement to carry forward 20 days’ leave (or some other amount of leave of the employee’s choosing).
The Government guidance sets out the relevant factors which should be taken into account when determining whether or not it is reasonably practicable for leave to be taken in the current leave year. These reasons focus on where there is such pressure/demand within the business requiring employees to work that it is not possible for leave to be taken by those employees. It is envisaged in such cases that the employer would tell the employees that they cannot take their leave.’
|Covid Risk Assessments||Incident and District Line completed. General depot one have been done.
All Risk Assessments need to be checked for new staff returning that was shielding. Talked about a phased return to work. Concerns that staff are only deemed vulnerable if over 70%. People should really not be at work if vulnerable. Needs to look at how we approach this issue. First question needs to be that LUOH have not done their job properly and we will review and put something out ourselves. Important to be aware that despite restrictions being lifted for shielding does not mean that people have had their restrictions lifted.
LUOH not taking into account how people have to travel to work which could potentially mean that they are vulnerable.
|LUL BAME Risk Assessments||People need to aware that these should be carried out and that the use of central communications was not appropriate and that we need to move to a more local approach. The onus should be away from the individuals and the RMT had major concerns regarding how LUL was looking into this issue. LUL are calling an emergency meeting however, it was a waste of time. Rep has sent out documents but their starting point risk assessment was for White Finger Vibration issue which was disgusting.
Lack of awareness in some areas and being pursued at higher levels.
|Glasses||Concerns that glasses were misting up with the face masks. LUL is looking special products that can be used.
Some demisting solution has been trialled but unsuccessful
|Minimum Numbers in the Van||Concerns ref minimum numbers and the need to maintaining 2m distance. Company have issued new guidance ref Tier 2 and we are rejecting this out of order.|
|Training restart||Looking at phasing course start times, all agreed but joining instructions not updated|
|Thermal Monitoring of staff||Should not be to do away with other protections and at the start and not in place of PPE. If high temp then staff go home. Need to progress pay for non-permanent staff. Branch position generally in favour.|
|LUL BAME Risk Assessments Meetings||No further meetings and LUL attitude is disgusting. They have done nothing.
Only 1 meeting occurred and then nothing. Action: chase J Leach
|Local Lock Downs||Bro Jackson raised the issue of local lock downs such as Leicester and whether there is any discussions or planning.
Not a great response from LUL and no plan in place. No real guidance has been forthcoming. No firm commitment.
|Ventilation||Issue with air recycled systems and where it is dispelled. It is felt most depots are probably ok but our reps need to raise during their risk assessments.|
|Balfour Beatty||More staff unfurloughed and redeployment.
Looking at restart and job moves. Wish to use thermal camera as above.
|Cubic||Concerns that RA’s aren’t available|
|Self Employed/ Protection||Very hard times. LUL changing protection arrangement hours and very little work. Issue raised with LUL and they stated that they would not implement. This has not been implemented.
Hardship Fund now over £5000.
· Look at ways of communication actioned.
|Branch Exec||Produce PPE Guidelines, work in progress|
|Obtain Face Masks|
INTERNATIONAL WORKERS’ MEMORIAL DAY: TUESDAY 28TH APRIL 2020- MINUTE’S SILENCE AT 11.00 AM TO COMMEMORATE FIGHT AGAINST COVID – 19 PANDEMIC
Every year on April 28th, all around the world the trade union movement unites to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD).
We remember those who have lost their lives at work, or from work-related injury and diseases. We renew our efforts to organise collectively to prevent more deaths, injuries and disease as a result of work.
The Covid-19 pandemic affects every worker regardless of sector or locality. Tens of thousands of workers worldwide have died. More have fallen ill and key workers continue to go to work risking their lives. Many workers are still attending work ill-equipped and without necessary safety measures in place.
We could not have a starker reminder of the important role of trade union health and safety reps in saving and protecting workers’ lives, than the current crisis we are living through.
While we may not be able to attend the memorial events which usually take place on IWMD, there are many ways trade union members can take part in our collective day of remembrance and solidarity.
At 11am on Tuesday 28th April, please take part in a minute’s silence where it is safe to do so. I have already written to employers and authorities across the UK to allow all employees under their remit to do so and the initiative is supported by the government.
It will be a moment to pay tribute to the sacrifice made of so many workers during the pandemic, to remember those who have sadly lost their lives, and to thank and fight for the rights of all those who continue to do vital work at great risk.
Help spread the word about the minute’s silence by encouraging as many friends and colleagues to take part, whether in their workplace or at home. Social media links are here:
https://bit.ly/34Yml8h Twitter: https://bit.ly/2RYzVDu
TUC information on the day can be found here:
Please make the contents of this Circular available to all members.
I will be emailing all members these details.
Below is the basics of keeping and working safe.
- Keep at least 2m social distancing
- Use the correct PPE and be careful
- Do not rush
- If you have doubts about your work or work methods then contact your rep
- If you have enough doubts to contact your REP then you probably have enough doubts to refuse to work on the grounds of Health and Safety
- Speak to your managers and tell them why you don’t feel safe
We control our safety. Do not take chances.
Staying safe is our right
Keeping trains running for key workers is our role.
We cannot do that if we all catch the illness
Engineering Reps on a conference call with London Underground were today told that 30 TFL workers have now died.
This means it is likely that the deaths of transport workers has now surpassed NHS workers in London.
We stand side by side with our brothers and sisters in the NHS and we are doing all we can to get all essential workers to work.
What our employers must URGENTLY do, is supply us with full and adequate P.P.E in order to do so.
Our lives depend on it.
RESPIRABLE CRYSTALLINE SILICA (RCS)
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Respiratory Health has urged the Government to take action to prevent the ‘next asbestos’ from taking more lives in the UK.
The APPG and not-for-profit organisation Building and Civil Engineering (B&CE)’s joint report, Silica – the next asbestos?, examines the danger posed by respirable crystalline silica (RCS).
The link to the APPG/B&CE report is at
In a 2014 report, the HSE stated that silica is the biggest risk to construction workers after asbestos:
Around 600,000 UK workers are exposed to RCS each year, which is created when bricks or stone are either fractured, cut or drilled into. This can cause silicosis, the most common chronic occupational lung disease in the world. In Australia, the recent rise in cases of silicosis has been described as an ‘emerging occupational health epidemic’.
The new report calls on the Government to take a number of crucial steps to address these issues and protect construction workers from exposure to RCS.
These recommendations include:
- Halving the workplace exposure limit (WEL) for RCS in the UK from 0.1mg/m3 to 0.05mg/m3 in line with the 2003 recommended exposure standard from the Scientific Committee on Occupation Exposure Limits
- Developing and implementing a targeted industry awareness campaign for those at risk of developing silicosis
- Introducing occupational health services into GP surgeries to allow for occupational histories to be taken where work-related ill health is suspected
- Introducing new health and safety regulations specifically relating to the control of respirable crystalline silica (RCS), to bring it into line with asbestos
- Introducing an NHS screening programme for those exposed to RCS
Jim Shannon MP, Chair of the APPG for Respiratory Health, said:
“This inquiry has given us real insight into the steps being taken to improve at-work health, especially around the issue of silica dust. We hope this report will assist the Health and Safety Executive, the Government and the construction industry to shine light on an under-documented issue and protect the construction workforce from preventable injury and illnesses.”
One of those to submit evidence to the inquiry was Gordon Sommerville, 59, from Scotland, who retired from his work as a stone mason and builder due to ill-health. In his evidence, he recalled almost non-existent levels of industry awareness to the dangers of inhaling dust at the start of his 38-year career.
He said: “Today, colleges teach stoneworkers of the dangers, the
HSE runs awareness campaigns and larger companies will supply employees with respiratory protection. But still the danger of dust has not filtered through to most and ignorance is still the major cause of dust diseases.”
I also draw your attention to RMT’s own publication, “Danger Dust”, which is available online at