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RAIL workers’ union RMT blasted a“disgraceful and disgusting” decision by Transport for London (TfL) to deny free travel to Tube train cleaners during the coronavirus crisis today.
The union said the decision to ban the key workers from the right to free travel despite the current crisis was dismissed via a “short and blunt letter.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is nothing short of a scandal that thousands of Tube cleaners who have put themselves right on the line, working round the clock in risky conditions to keep London’s essential workers moving, are being denied free travel on the transport network in the midst of this pandemic crisis.
“Those responsible for this disgusting and disgraceful decision should be hanging their heads in shame and I am demanding the London Mayor Sadiq Khan take immediate action to right this wrong, which casts a stain across the capital city.”
TfL had not responded to the Star’s request for comment at the time of publishing.
In separate remarks Mr Khan said TfL could be forced to cut services unless it receives government funding in the coming days, as it has lost hundreds of millions of pounds of revenue due to the lockdown.
A Transport for London (TfL) spokesperson said: “Key workers including cleaners on the transport network are doing an amazing job in these extraordinarily difficult times, and TfL is very grateful for everything they are doing. Following discussions, cleaners now have the ability to self isolate with full pay so that they don’t feel forced to attend work for financial reasons.
“As of Monday of this week, all customers on London buses are no longer required to touch in at the start of their journey as we are currently running middle door only boarding to help enable better social distancing for our drivers. We hope that this temporary change will benefit all key workers, including London’s cleaning workforce.
“The drop in passenger numbers – 95 per cent on the Tube and 85 per cent on the bus network - as a result of TfL doing the right thing to prevent the spread of coronavirus is causing huge financial challenges for TfL and negotiations are ongoing with the Government to secure a grant to enable TfL to continue operating services. Given this extremely difficult financial backdrop, it is not currently possible for TfL to consider adding new travel concessions.”
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