BOTCHED & CONFUSED: Railway workers face threat of violence due to mask confusion
A union has warned that railway workers face the threat of violence because of the “botched and confused” approach to masks on public transport.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said staff will be placed in danger of abuse and assault because of “inconsistent messaging” on wearing face masks from next Monday.
Unions have welcomed a decision by London Mayor Sadiq Khan that masks should still be worn on public transport in the capital after criticising the approach taken by the Government.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Whilst we welcome the approach from the London Mayor this morning, which is consistent with the policies currently adopted in Scotland, Wales and on Eurostar, we now have the ludicrous position where a passenger travelling through London will have different rules on the Tube and the mainline services.
“There will also be a change of policy on trains at the Welsh and Scottish borders, which is a total nonsense and will leave staff right at the sharp end and dangerously exposed when it comes to enforcement.
“As a result of this chaotic approach we now have a situation where the London measures are not enforceable by law, which means RMT members will be thrown into a hostile and confrontational situation from next Monday at heightened risk of abuse and assault.
“That is wholly down to the confused, inconsistent and botched messaging from the Government.
“RMT will continue to support and advise our members in their legal right to a safe place of work.
“The train operators, bus companies and, most importantly, the Government should be following the best practice on face coverings in the name of consistency, common sense and public safety and that should be backed by law.
“They cannot step back from this critical issue and leave our members set up as punchbags.”
GMB union general secretary Gary Smith said: “The bottom line is it’s way too early to be taking face coverings out of public transport – where ventilation and social distancing are often not achievable.
“Transport workers and those who have to travel on the Tube deserve to be safe.
“We are still very much in the grip of Covid and this cannot be a return to business as usual, otherwise we are risking the spread of further infection while heaping further pressure on our NHS.”
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