Union calls on government to provide Personal Protective Equipment
Picture: Robin Stott
Unite the union that represents London bus workers have confirmed that five staff have died of coronavirus. It is believed that three were drivers and two were controllers.
The union says that their members are doing a heroic job during the current crisis where their role is critical in helping NHS staff get to work. They called on the government to provide transport workers with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
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.”
Measures to protect drivers that have been implemented since the outbreak 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.
The union is holding daily meetings with TfL to explore further safety improvements and they say the Mayor shares their view that drivers must be fully protected.
The Mayor said, "My thoughts are with their friends and families at this awful time.
"I have been clear that our incredible public transport staff, on the buses, tubes, trams and trains, are critical workers, making a heroic effort to allow our NHS staff to save more lives.
"But we all need to play our part too and that means fewer Londoners using the public transport network. Please follow the rules. Stay at home and do not use public transport unless it is absolutely unavoidable."
Gareth Powell, TfL's managing director for surface transport, said "The safety of our staff and customers is our absolute priority and we have been working closely with the bus companies, the mayor and Unite to implement a range of changes and improvements to keep the bus network and garages safe for those operating and using it, in accordance with Public Health England advice."
April 5, 2020