Transport union the TSSA has warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson that its members will be invited to vote on strike action if social distancing measures are relaxed too soon.
A government review of the two-metre rule published on Wednesday (24 June 2020) stated that public transport presents a “high risk” for the spread of Coronavirus due to “prolonged indoor contact between a high number of users from different households”.
However, it went on to recommend the distance between passengers should be reduced to one metre with face coverings because “increased capacity is necessary for economic growth”.
Manuel Cortes, General Secretary of TSSA, said: “The government’s own review into social distancing makes clear the ‘high risks’ involved with public transport.
“What is staggering is that in almost the same breath the Review says increased capacity is ‘necessary for economic growth’. In other words – the lives of passengers and our members are being put at risk so that fat cats can accumulate profits.
“This is an outrageous admission by our government whose first duty must always be to protect lives. We will not let that stand and do all we can to prevent more needless deaths across our transport network.”
Cortes pointed out that the Transport Secretary himself, Grant Shapps, paid his respects to the transport workers who have put themselves at risk to keep public services moving, including those who have died after becoming infected with the Coronavirus at work.
Earlier this week, Shapps appealed for passengers to respect two-metre social distancing rules and to avoid unnecessary travel.
“Yet it now appears that his words are hollow as the Tories are looking to use these heroic workers as nothing more than cannon fodder,” Cortes said.
“I will now be consulting our members over balloting for a national strike on public transport,” he added.
“We must protect transport workers and the travelling public should the government proceed with this reckless attempt to cut physical distancing to one metre early next month. I urge them to think again.”