Transport strikes warned over social distancing

A strike could take place in the public transport industry if the social distancing rule does not stay at two metres on the transport network.

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has warned of a national strike of the trade union’s members in public transport unless the Government gives unequivocal assurances that the social distancing rules across the transport network will remain at two metres.

The announcement comes as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, signalled a move towards one metre plus in some business and leisure settings from 4 July in England. However, TSSA notes the Prime Minister said that where possible the distance should remain at two metres. It acknowledges the summary findings of the Government’s own review (published 24 June) into the two metre social distancing guidance states ‘public transport presents a high risk owing to prolonged indoor contact between a high number of users from different households…..We recommend 1m distancing with face coverings is allowed on public transport; increased capacity is necessary for economic growth…’

Cortes said: “I will now be consulting our members over balloting for a national strike on public transport. We must protect transport workers and the travelling public should the Government proceed with this reckless attempt to cut physical distancing to one metre early next month. I urge them to think again.

“Grant Shapps was right to praise the efforts of transport workers who are keeping our country moving and supplied during the Coronavirus health emergency. As the Transport Secretary pointed out, we have seen far too many deaths already in the line of duty.

“Yet it now appears that his words are hollow as the Tories are looking to use these heroic workers as nothing more than cannon fodder. The Government’s own review into social distancing makes clear the ‘high risks’ involved with public transport.

“What is staggering is that in almost the same breath the Review says increased capacity is ‘necessary for economic growth’. In other words – the lives of passengers and our members are being put at risk so that fat cats can accumulate profits.

“This is an outrageous admission by our Government whose first duty must always be to protect lives. We will not let that stand and do all we can to prevent more needless deaths across our transport network.”

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