The transport union, RMT has said that they expect a ‘surge’ in passengers on the London Underground and has insisted on two metre social distancing and limiting capacity on trains, following the Prime Minister’s statement.

Mick Cash, General Secretary 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.”

The two metre social distancing rule will have to be adhered to on the tube or the RMT will regard this as unsafe. On London Underground staff have the legal right to use the refusal to work policy and the union will “fully back any member who uses this process to ensure their safety.”

Summarising the health & safety policy, the RMT say:

a) Ensure any arrangements are based on train usage being limited to an average of 20%
b) Social distancing must remain in place at 2m. If there are essential tasks that must be carried out where 2m is not possible then agreed mitigation must be in place.
c) PPE: Surgical masks / visors are not protection from infection and are not mitigation for any failure to implement 2m social distancing.
d) Social distancing must be possible in staff areas after any increase in services

Train usage at one fifth, will be a challenge as anyone who has used the London tube during rush hour will know.

The RMT have reiterated the legal position saying that this stems from the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Employment Rights Act 1996 which state that employees are protected by law if they decide that their work situation represents a threat of “serious or imminent danger” and as a result of this belief they remove themselves to a place of safety. 

The financial implications for the London Underground are unclear. But 80 per cent of TfL’s income comes from fares, so the measures so far have had a devastating impact on the its finances.

About 320,000 people boarded a tube every 15 minutes during the 8am weekday peak in February, prior to the covid-19 restrictions being imposed. A confidential report says only 50,000 passengers would be able to board every 15 minutes – Taking this together, the London Underground is likely to see headlines of ‘travel chaos’ and ‘mayhem’.


RMT new advice issued

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