Unite the union has called for drivers to be “fully protected” following the tragic news of five London bus drivers dying of COVID-19.
The union is demanding government provides full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for drivers who carry on working through the coronavirus crisis.
The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, responded to the news by urging the public to “follow the rules” and stay at home.
The London Mayor released a statement via Twitter on Sunday morning, passing his condolences on to the families affected. He added: “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.
“All drivers on London buses are shielded by a Perspex screen and TfL have ensured measures have been taken to keep staff as safe as possible - with enhanced cleaning, stopping passengers from riding near the drivers and boosting social distancing at station and stops.
“TfL will continue to make enhancements across public transport in London to ensure there are even higher levels of protection.
“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.”
In response to the tragic news, 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.”
Image credit: Pixabay