The government has revealed an outrageous plan to use volunteers on the rail network, and unions have responded with a threat of strikes.
The RMT rail union responded with fury after being made aware of government plans to introduce a workforce of unpaid and unskilled “Transport Guardian Angels” on the rail network.
The contract between the Department for Transport and charity “Volunteering Matters” is to recruit an unspecified number of volunteers to perform safety critical roles at railway stations
There is no agreement between rail unions and any train operating companies for volunteers to be used in roles such as supporting passenger flow in and out of stations and guiding passengers through new social distancing safe pathways.
In a letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps, the RMT called on the government to immediately withdraw from this scheme or face the possibility of industrial action.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said, “RMT is furious that the Department for Transport has done a backroom deal to recruit unpaid and unskilled workers on our railway without even so much as a conversation with rail unions. These volunteer roles include safety critical functions that only highly skilled and highly trained workers should be undertaking.
“The safety of passengers and workers must come first and make no mistake RMT will vehemently oppose this action.
“RMT regards this as a deliberate provocation and we will fight this with everything at our disposal, including balloting our members for strike action.”