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  • Writer's pictureFinn Brennan ASLEF Distri

Turn off NHS app, Catch Covid, Get disciplined; say London Underground management !

Updated: Jul 2, 2021

At a scheduled meeting with trade unions on July 1st London Underground management announced that from July 19th, Covid related absence from work will count as an item under the Attendance at Work (AAW) procedure. This reverses the position throughout the pandemic so far where management accepted that Covid related absence would not be treated as a disciplinary issue.

The only exception will be where people are instructed to self-isolate by track and trace.

But doubling down on their contempt for their employees safety, London Underground management have now told staff to turn off the NHS Covid app while at work claiming that it is unreliable. This is a clear attempt to push staff to ignore the law on self -isolation. It also contradicts NHS advice that you should download and use the app "even if you are in a Covid secure workplace".

This is a truly shocking decision taken without any consultation with the trade unions. Senior managers who continue to work safely from home are now telling frontline staff, who have risked their own safety and that of their families, to keep essential services operating, that catching Covid can now be considered a disciplinary offence.

Not only does this show utter contempt for staff on whom they heaped hypocritical praise when they needed them to keep services operating through the height of the pandemic, it is also flagrantly in breach of existing agreements that treat recognised infectious diseases as “special leave” rather than absence from work. When challenged on this point by ASLEF Executive Committee member Terry Wilkinson, management claimed they didn’t know if Covid is an infectious disease!

Our view is that this is a stunning display of bad faith from a management who encouraged staff to “do the right thing” to keep London moving. The mask of concern for staff welfare has slipped.

We are now in a bizarre situation where staff must keep going to work but can expect a disciplinary hearing conducted remotely by a manager who is working from home if they catch Covid!

This is an utterly unacceptable approach. ASLEF told management that we cannot accept this position and unless it is changed, we will be in dispute with London Underground. We reminded them that we have a mandate for industrial action will be prepared to use it if necessary.

We are raising this issue urgently with the Mayor of London and will take whatever action is needed to make sure this disgraceful decision is reversed.

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