Government & LUL want to abandon Social distancing to increase tube capacity - Download and distribute

Below you can download the latest bulletin explaining how RMT will resist any increase in service without proper health and safety measures being in place. You can also download a copy of the report presented, by LUL, to the UITP, in which they raise the idea of cutting social distancing from 2m.


A story in the Telegraph (Sat 2 May) says the government is looking to abandon the advice to maintain 2m social distancing.

This came as no surprise to RMT as we had seen a presentation by LUL to the International Union of Public Transport (UITP) in which they argue that social distancing must be reduced to 0.5m in order to meet the expected demands for capacity under a “soft lockdown”.

Having chased people walking in the peak district with drones, fined people picnicking in the Yorkshire Moors and chased people out of London Parks, we’re now told it will be OK to stuff people into tube trains.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the so-called science can be changed according to whatever the government wants to do at any given time.

No Trust in government or bosses

For all the fancy talk about working in the national interest and co-operation between industry and unions we are seeing the same old disregard for workers as the bosses try to get the economy moving again.

Let’s be clear. We all understand the need the be able to produce the stuff we need. Our public services and day-to-day needs cannot be met if the whole economy is shut down. But getting is moving cannot be left in the hands of the same government and bosses that have made such a mess of the crisis so far.

The fact that the UK did not have and cannot manufacture sufficient PPE or tests is not a natural and unavoidable consequence of the emergence of coronavirus. The government modelled a pandemic just like this back in 2016. It concluded that the NHS would not have enough critical care beds or ventilators. It did nothing.

The run down over years, even decades, of our public infrastructure and the development of a ‘just in time economy’, that refuses to carry the costs of planning for emergencies, has led us to a situation where the UK is likely to finish up with a higher per capita mortality rate than any other wealthy nation.

Maintain 2m social distance

Workers on the tube and across public transport services must be able to maintain 2m social distancing unless and until it is clearly safe to move away from this. The only mitigation for working without social distancing is PPE and that doesn’t mean wrapping a scarf around your face. With proper PPE unavailable we have no mitigations in place on LUL.

London bus drivers have mortality

rate 15x that of NHS staff

There are 20K London bus drivers and there are at least 22 known coronavirus deaths among them. That’s a rate of more than one per 1000. Far higher than the rate for NHS staff. Many bus drivers believe this tragedy was avoidable and was made worse than it could have been by the refusal of TFL and the bus companies to seal the front doors and limit boarding to the middle doors. Eventually this has been done, but too late for many.

Tube workers want to provide an essential service but not with a reckless disregard for our safety

We have not looked to shut down the tube in this crisis. RMT members have demonstrated a commitment to provide a service to those who really need to travel around London. We will also get that service back up to a more intensive service when we can do so safely and without gambling with our lives. We will not have a near full service imposed on us by politicians and bosses who only care about  themselves.