As news breaks that ten London bus workers have died from coronavirus, Unite the Union is calling for more protection for them.
Unite regional secretary, Peter Kavanagh said:
“Each of these deaths is a terrible tragedy and the thoughts of everyone at Unite goes to the families of the bus workers who have died of coronavirus.
“Unite will assist the families of our members in every possible way during this terrible time.
“Unite has been working continuously with Transport for London (TfL) and the operators to ensure the safety of drivers and others in the industry who are performing a heroic job in getting NHS and care workers to their places of work.
These measures include deep cleaning of buses, additional cleaning of touch points, the sealing of screens around the driver, the provision of hand sanitizer for all and placing the passenger seating closest to the driver out of bounds.
“I have been in direct contact with the mayor of London who shares our view that bus drivers must be fully protected.
“My officers are holding daily meetings with TfL, exploring further safety improvements and we are absolutely committed to doing everything in our power to make the driving of buses safe during this unprecedented crisis.
“We are also calling on the government to make provisions for transport workers in terms of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“If any driver has safety concerns, then it is imperative that they inform their employer and Unite representative immediately. The union will immediately act on all such concerns.”
The Guardian reports, John Murphy, Unite’s London regional officer saying: “What has happened has scared them to death and terrorised the drivers. I have been a driver on London buses for 24 years and I can tell you that we are a family. What has happened to our colleagues hits us all.”
It is claimed that some buses are not being cleaned properly and drivers have not been given face masks or gloves according to sky news.
The message to the public is only use public transport if it is essential to do so.
Bellingham, Catford Bus Garage is a major employer locally. Cllr Alan Hall said: “I send my heart felt condolences to all the bus workers and their families at this very difficult time.”
“Bus workers need to be given proper protection. They are key workers and without them London will grind to a halt.”