Commenting on Transport for London (TfL) figures that 57 staff, including 42 bus drivers, have died from coronavirus, and that around 10 per cent of TfL staff are currently either on sick leave or self-isolating, Unite lead officer for buses in London John Murphy said: 

“London’s bus drivers, who are truly essential frontline workers, paid a tragically high price during the beginning of the pandemic. These disturbing figures show that once again, bus drivers and other transport workers are in the eye of the storm as they keep London moving. 

“Unite has overseen improvements in safety procedures since the virus’ first peak last year and our health and safety reps are continuing to monitor workplaces and make sure measures are implemented and improved upon.

“More needs to be done by both government and employers, however, to protect drivers and other transport workers. This includes the provision of higher quality PPE, increased testing and the appropriate prioritisation of frontline workers, such as bus drivers, in receiving the vaccine. 

“Remote sign on, where drivers begin and end their shifts at bus stops rather than at garages, also needs to be scrapped. The practice prevents drivers from using toilets, canteens and rest areas and forces them to interact with more people than necessary – all of which increases the risk of exposure.  

“Members of the public have their part to play to keep communities and transport workers safe as well, by wearing masks on buses and trains at all times and keeping journeys down to an absolute minimum.”

ENDS

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.