Vulnerable? Come to work!

Posted in Tubeworker's blog on Fri, 16/10/2020 - 11:59,
A graphic representation of a coronavirus particle

Senior LU boss Nick Dent wasn't mincing his words in an Employee Bulletin sent out to all staff on 15 October: "All colleagues in our operational teams should continue to come to work as normal, including colleagues who are vulnerable."

Let's remind ourselves of the facts: between 15 and 20,000 new virus cases per day over the last couple of weeks, rising death rates and hospital admissions, London moving up to "Tier 2" of the new restrictions, and, unlike during the first wave, when ridership fell to 2% of its usual levels, passenger footfall is at around 35%.

And what does LU have to say to vulnerable staff? "Come to work as normal."

Additional safety measures, including revised rosters and staff safe zones, are in place at workplaces across the job. But during the first wave, there were clear provisions for staff in the clinically vulnerable or extremely vulnerable categories to remain at home. These staff, many of whom were subsequently furloughed, were returned to work on the basis of individual risk assessments, often fairly perfunctory, which recommended minor adjustments such as avoiding traveling to work during peak hours.

But with infection rates now sharply spiking, this isn't good enough. Vulnerable staff need to be furloughed again. If the government won't extend its scheme, as seems likely, TfL/LU must find the funds to finance this itself. The alternative - throwing vulnerable workers into high-risk, public-facing work, during a potentially deadly second wave - is unconscionable.

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