Saturday, July 18, 2009

SWINE FLU (Circular)

Dear Colleagues SWINE FLU PANDEMIC You will be aware that in recent weeks that there have been many news reports regarding the outbreak of a new strain of subtype H1N1 influenza, commonly called swine flu, hog flu or pig flu, and the fears that this disease may become a major global pandemic. In line with recent Government warnings the General Grades Committee has discussed the possible impact on RMT members. At their meeting of 15th July 2009 the General Grades Committee took the follow decision:- “That we note the Government warnings on this issue and instruct the General Secretary to continue to make representations, including through our Parliamentary group to obtain Government guidelines to employers on dealing with the situation and to insist on the rights of this union to be fully involved in compiling such public guidelines. The General Secretary is instructed to arrange an Early Day Motion urging the Government to carry out these steps immediately. The General Secretary is instructed to write to all employers where we have recognition rights or members employed requiring confirmation of the following:-
  • That they have a policy agreed with our Trade Union for dealing with pandemic influenza or a general policy covering major health incidents with full involvement and agreement from Trade Union and Trade Union representatives at the workplace in line with TUC guidance for unions (June 2009)
  • That where employers have “sickness absence” monitoring, or irregular attendance, or Managing for Attendance policies in place that these policies are suspended forthwith in light of the current serious situation
  • That employers agree in line with HSE and Government advice to “Advise staff to stay at home if they are sick with flu like symptoms and send home any employees who are displaying flu like signs or symptoms”
  • To meet with Trade Union representatives to agree leave arrangements for staff where appropriate
  • That where appropriate staff are given the opportunity and resources to work from home That risk assessments are carried out with full trade union involvement of whether staff are likely to be exposed in their work to members of the public, what measures can be taken to minimise contact, duration and frequency
  • That any staff requiring prescription anti viral and retro viral medicines should be directed to their GP or NHS provider
  • That employers responsible for public or staff toilets and washrooms agree to employ additional cleaning staff and introduce anti septic gel dispensers and hand wipes for staff and customers That immediate steps are agreed and implemented to ensure that public service vehicles (trains, coaches, ferries etc.) with washroom facilities are taken out of service unless the facilities are in working order
  • That employers notify all staff of those arrangements they have made to prepare for an outbreak of pandemic flu, including what role they expect individual staff to take. Staff should be provided with information (HSE, Dept of Health etc) about pandemic flu and the need for personal hygiene, with full involvement of Trade Union and Health & Safety reps.
  • All responses to be referred to our Health & Safety Subcommittee with this file for examination and report. GGC to be kept informed of all developments. The TUC guidelines and Department of Health advice to be made available via the RMT website, by email to all reps and activists via a circular to all Officers, Reps, Regional Offices and Regional Councils.
  • The General Secretary is instructed to prepare a press release in support of our Parliamentary Group’s EDM drawing attention to the particular difficulties faced by public transport members and demanding that employers suspend punitive attendance at work policies that could make the spread of flu pandemic worse. All branches and regional councils to informed as a matter of urgency.”
In line with the General Grades Committee decision I have attached the TUC guidance for Unions (June 2009) to this circular for the attention of Branch Officials and Health & Safety Representatives. I am currently in the process of enacting the instructions from the General Grades Committee and I will write again soon with further information when it becomes available. download attachment (pdf file) Yours sincerely Bob Crow General Secretary

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