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Surge in Covid-related attacks on staff at London station must be stopped, says RMT

URGENT action is needed to end a surge in Covid-19-related attacks on staff at a London station, rail union RMT said today.

The union is demanding immediate steps from operator Southeastern following a string of assaults at Lewisham station, with one staff member left fearful of returning to work after being spat at twice and assaulted three times.

And it has advised members of their right to remove themselves from danger if they believe they are at risk of assault.

Workers at the station report violent assaults, threats, racial abuse and intimidation “almost on a daily basis,” the union said, demanding that the operator end the practice of staff working alone and beef up protection, including ensuring the presence of British Transport Police officers.

It also wants the company to bin current “inadequate” risk assessments and undertake new ones that take into account the risk of assault, provide a proper “chain of care” following incidents, and to publicise a “zero-tolerance” approach to staff assaults.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is a disgrace that front-line workers at Lewisham station have to go to work wondering if they will be the victim of a Covid-related or other assault.

“The union is issuing specific advice to our members at Lewisham station on personal safety, including to ‘safe stop’ and walk off the job if they assess they are at risk of assault.”

RMT is already pressing for transport workers and other front-line key workers to be given priority for the next phase of Covid-19 vaccinations, urging the government to “follow the evidence” and “grim statistics” on occupational exposure to the disease.

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