ASLEF Condemns Johnson Advice: Too Much Too Soon
ASLEF has criticised the government's decision to ditch its Covid-19 working from home guidance – the advice, 'based on the science', in place since March – and tell millions of people to start using public transport again and return to their offices.
Boris Johnson used his coronavirus crisis press conference on Friday 17 July to beg people to get back to work to boost the British economy and unveiled a new 'contain framework' designed to show that the virus is under control.
The Prime Minister urged people to use public transport between 9am and 4pm, rather than travel during peak times, saying: 'There is a lot of spare capacity that is not being used.'
Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers' union, which represents 96% of the train drivers in England, Scotland, and Wales, said:
'We need clarity and we are not getting clarity from this government. Mr Johnson and his ministers have become the masters of mixed messaging and misleading information.
'We have worked with the industry and the government throughout this pandemic to ensure the increase in capacity that allows safe travel and operation with proper social distancing.
'Mr Johnson must be careful not to send out more mixed messages that compromise the safety of key workers travelling, or operating, all modes of transport.
'We cannot deliver safely anywhere like the peaks of the past and we are not convinced that this is the right time to relax procedures designed to keep passengers, and staff, safe from covid-19 on public transport in Britain.
'As train drivers we believe in public transport – we love trains! – and we want people to use trains and buses. But we want passengers to be able to travel safely and this seems to be too much, too soon.'
Mick added: 'We look forward to the time when we can safely get back to normal and rail forms the backbone of a green economic recovery for Britain.'