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11 May: news in brief

Union and train operator clash in social distancing dispute

TSSA is claiming that South Western Railway staff are being forced to come into offices when their work could be performed from home. The union said that ‘the company’s actions are in clear contradiction to government guidance to stay home and for everyone who can work from home to do so’. TSSA claimed that SWR had said ’no laptops can be bought or found anywhere’. The union’s general secretary Manuel Cortes said: ‘The pathetic excuses given by management shows they simply haven’t bothered to properly source and set up technology for remote working. Even where it exists, they are still flouting government advice and getting staff to travel into the office. This behaviour is completely unacceptable, and frankly, it’s irresponsible.’ South Western Railway responded that it had completed health and safety audits and risk assessments which were signed off by TSSA’s local reps before the office opened. The company continued: ‘Many customers are facing financial hardship and the need to process refunds is essential. The systems require people to be in the office, but we have ensured we followed Public Health England guidelines around social distancing, limited the number of colleagues in at any one time, and have even expanded the area available. Our priority throughout this crisis has been to keep customers and colleagues safe.’

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