Union leaders are calling for transport workers to be classified as a priority group for the COVID-19 vaccine amid claims of a “surge” in deaths among rail and other staff.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said information from its members suggested deaths and illnesses due to coronavirus among rail workers have at least doubled since November.
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The union is calling for a nationwide overhaul of risk assessments and for transport workers to be classed as a priority group to receive the vaccination, to protect lives and ensure the railways can continue to transport essential goods and workers.
‘Callous and complacent’
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “A more infectious and now it seems more deadly variant of the COVID-19 virus plus an increase in passengers numbers is a lethal cocktail threatening rail workers, with deaths and illness doubling since November.
“But instead of responding to our call for a urgent national review of all risk assessments we are being told it’s business as usual – this is as callous as it is complacent.
“We are advising our members of their right to stop working if their safety is threatened and I will be seeking an urgent meeting with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps asking that he intervenes to take speedy action to address the new threat and also to prioritise transport workers for the vaccine.
“Both steps are necessary not only to save lives but also to protect the resilience of the transport network.”
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