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TSSA Attacks Hancock "Tube Should Run In Full" Comments - Calls For Ban On Building Site Work

24 March 2020

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has poured scorn on claims by the Government that London Underground services should be running as normal during the Coronavirus emergency. 

The travel and transport union boss was reacting to comments by the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, at a Downing Street news conference. Hancock was asked, in the light of packed morning Tube trains in the capital ‘why private housebuilding is deemed essential work?’ 

Hancock replied - “Transport for London should have the Tube running in full so that the people travelling on the Tube are spaced out and can be further apart” - “we should have more Tube trains running.” 

Commenting Cortes said: “The idea that the Tube can run with a normal service level is utter nonsense. Thirty per cent of Underground staff are either off sick as a result of COVID-19 or in self-isolation.  

“Also, to have a normal service suggests to the public that it’s business as normal. Plus the cuts to staff numbers implemented by our current Prime Minster as Mayor of London has left no effective cover for those off sick. 

“Our members need the space to carry out their duties on the Tube, making sure services for key workers are able to run smoothly and safely. Matt Hancock must stop playing petty blame games and if he’s unsure about what needs to happen on the Tube I’d be happy to set him straight, by phone. 

“In all seriousness it looks as though the Tories are prepared to defend the interests of building companies who’ve made huge donations to their coffers, rather than protect the lives of ordinary Londoners and Tube staff. 

“The Government must ban working on all building sites now unless the work is vital to protect health and safety – and make sure these workers are given the financial package they need. 

“As I have said, Ministers must come forward today with measures guaranteeing the income of workers in the gig economy, the self-employed and freelancers. That will go a long way to reducing the numbers who feel they have no choice but to travel to work on public transport in the capital and beyond.” 


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