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  • Writer's pictureFinn Brennan ASLEF Distri

Saying "keep calm and carry on" is not enough for London Underground staff.

ASLEF Health and Safety reps and Head Office Officials have been working hard to make sure members concerns about Covid-19 are raised with senior management on London Underground and updated information is passed on.

Of course, we are not Doctors or Scientists. We cannot second guess the advice given by the Public Health Authorities or the NHS. But we can, and do insist that TfL do everything necessary to keep the network as safe as possible for passengers and staff alike.

ASLEF H&S reps pushed management to provide hand gel at train crew depots after they initially refused, as well as arguing for masks and gloves to be made available. We have also insisted, loudly and publicly, that the cleaning regime needed to be enhanced at depots and in train cabs.

Of course, there is a lot of debate about how effective any of these measures are. The official UK Government attitude seems to be "Keep calm, carry on and wash your hands". But people can only be expected to keep calm, if it is clear that authorities are doing everything sensibly possible to make sure their work environment is kept safe.

So far our members have seen little evidence of the "enhanced cleaning regime" that has been promised. There are also doubts about the capacity of the cleaning contractor to deliver the level of response needed.

This is no time for penny pinching or cost saving. TfL and the Government has to be prepared to spend whatever it costs to keep the public transport network as safe as possible.

While those who are lucky enough to be young and healthy may feel they have little to worry about; those who have family members with underlying health conditions or elderly relatives will rightly be concerned. LU have already accepted that anyone who needs to self isolate will receive full sick pay, but if schools are forced to close or people need to take time off to look after relatives who fall ill they will also need to be supported and must not be penalised.

London Underground and other TfL staff are professionals who are not easily panicked. They want to play their part in keeping our city safe and moving. But they will want to see clear and honest leadership that follows the best scientific advice not vague assurances or cheery appeals to the blitz spirit.

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