Key Workers - Statement from General Secretary

20 March 2020

I apologise for starting by repeating what we have all heard a thousand times, but these are truly extraordinary and worrying times we are living through. The interruption to our normal lives due to the Coronavirus isn't so much a once in a generation event, but once in a century at least.


There are many heroes out there, who despite the personal risks, are doing everything they can to help keep people safe. There are too many groups of workers to mention them all individually but I would like to mention two.


We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to our NHS staff who, despite the exceptionally difficult circumstances, are putting themselves on the front line of this battle, to help us all.


But I also want to thank all our members and every railway and transport worker. Our members are vital in keeping this country functioning. They are not able to work from home. They are having to go out when many are not, to ensure that nurses, doctors and paramedics can get to hospitals. To make sure that all essential staff can get home and to their places of work. And also getting freight and essential goods to people. This supply line is essential. As certain goods are in peak demand, without our freight network, the supermarkets and pharmacists could not be re-stocked.


I am glad our members have been recognised as key workers at this difficult time in recognition of this fact, to ensure they can carry on working where possible and safe.


So, I thank our members wholeheartedly. But I also make this promise to them: ASLEF will do everything in our power to ensure that the rail industry does everything possible to keep you safe. Your safety and keeping this country running are ASLEF's priorities.


I have had several conference calls already with rail industry stakeholders and DfT officials. I can promise everybody that we will work hand in hand with every stakeholder in our industry to make sure the railway continues to service those who need it. Essential workers and freight need to move around our country. Now is the time to work collectively for the national interest.


We will continue to have these regular calls and through our website and social media accounts we will continue to keep our members informed of every development as soon as we can.


So once again, thank you to all ASLEF members and everyone in the railway family, working in uncertain and difficult times for the national interest. And thank you to all workers in all industries who are keeping Britain as safe as we possibly can.


Mick Whelan

General Secretary

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