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TUBE bosses were condemned today after casually dismissing the proven disproportionality of coronavirus infection and deaths among vulnerable and black and ethnic-minority (BAME) communities.
Transport union RMT said it was “furious” after receiving a copy of the London Underground document, dated June 5, titled Covid-19 Risk Assessment for BAME and Clinically Vulnerable Employees, Guidance for All Line Managers.
The document tells managers to reassure vulnerable workers that they are no more at risk by being at work than they would be by staying away — even though staff come into contact with thousands of passengers every day.
The guidance also advises managers to tell workers that being at work is better for their health because “there can be long-term health implications for individuals who are not in work for prolonged periods.”
Public Health England’s report published just three days earlier confirmed that people from BAME communities are at greater risk of being infected and dying from coronavirus than others.
The union said that London Underground's guidance also ignores demands by London Mayor Sadiq Khan — ultimately in charge of Transport for London, of which it is a part — for Tube bosses to carry out risk assessments on vulnerable staff.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is simply beyond belief that after the Mayor’s announcement and all his campaigns to highlight the impact of Covid-19 on BAME people that his own managers can produce such an insensitive and patently inaccurate document.
“To say that BAME and vulnerable staff who may have to work in the confined and crowded spaces of London Underground are at no greater risk than if they stayed at home is dangerous garbage.
“I have no doubt that we are in this position because management ignored our offer to involve our experienced health-and-safety reps at an earlier stage, and I am now calling on the Mayor to intervene to protect our members and properly involve the trade unions.”
RMT has called on industry bosses and safety regulators in the transport sector to take steps to protect BAME workers.
Transport for London had not responded to requests for comment at the time of going to press.
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