Mixed signals from government and employers are putting lives in jeopardy. The Workers Party of Britain deplores this dangerous inconsistency in instructions being given to rail workers in areas identified as breeding grounds for the highly infectious covid South African variant.
On 1 February, the government announced that certain areas of the country, designated by postcode, were covid variant hotspots, including some parts of London. Health secretary Matt Hancock urged people in those postcodes to take special care and stay at home, thereby assisting the national effort to beat the pandemic.
Yet on the very same evening the bosses running the London Underground, Transport for London (TfL), issued contradictory guidance to all their staff, including those in the hotspots, stating that if they were unable to work from home they must come into work as normal. Similar instructions were issued to staff working for Merseyrail.
Rail union RMT is challenging transport secretary Grant Shapps to sort out the government’s dangerously mixed signals forthwith.
Meanwhile, workers have every right to refrain from attending any workplace that they believe could prove injurious to their health or to the health of the public. Many of the staff are in public-facing roles, and research suggests that one in three of those infected with this strain show no symptoms.
The Workers Party of Britain stands by the right of rail workers to safeguard their own safety and that of the travelling public, and fully supports any measures that workers may take to further this end.