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TRAIN operators should be forced by the government to stand down all non-essential staff for the duration of the coronavirus crisis, transport union TSSA said today.
General secretary Manuel Cortes called on the Department for Transport to order companies to stop requiring workers such as ticket-office and platform-gate staff to report for duty.
The union criticised the actions of “callous rail bosses on six-figure salaries working from home who are needlessly putting our members in harm’s way.”
Union sources told the Star that if the government ignores the call, TSSA may hold a strike ballot.
Mr Cortes said: “Rail workers are being treated differently across different rail companies, and there has been conflicting advice from government and companies about who should be at work, what is safe and what level of staffing is required.
“With rail passenger levels falling by 90 per cent, there are multiple functions — such as ticket-office and gate staff — who are not needed and whose health is being put at risk by going into work. Many others could be working from home.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the Commons transport select committee last week that he “did not expect ticket-barrier or office staff to be working at the moment.”
Despite this, many companies have ordered staff to carry on regardless.
Mr Cortes said: “Our union wholeheartedly agrees with what the Transport Secretary said to the select committee last week.
“All non-essential staff must be stood down immediately; and also all those who can work from home, if they aren’t yet, must do so now. This is about saving lives, not profits.
“Sadly, unscrupulous train bosses are putting our members needlessly in harm’s way.
“It’s time for them to move on from their Dickensian management style to one that actually values and support our rail members who aren’t essential to keep trains moving.
“I am extremely proud that a significant number of our members are going in to work to keep vital supplies moving and to ensure medical and other key staff get to work, whatever it takes.”
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