The Workers Union is calling for the nation to look after its brave bus drivers by making sure they receive appropriate protection from COVID-19.
Under current rules, everyone – with few exemptions – is obliged to wear a protective face mask on public transport.
However, the government has yet to confirm whether this arrangement will continue after July the 19th.
Bus drivers are considered particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are in regular, close contact with members of the public. For example, statistics published by Transport for London revealed that around 51 drivers on the capital’s buses have died of the disease since the pandemic began.
A spokesperson for The Workers Union, said: ‘Many of our members work in the transport sector, so we have an excellent understanding of the stressors they experience on a daily basis. Bus drivers tell us that they have had to live with uncertainty for quite some time now – both in terms of how long mask-wearing rules will be in place and how they are enforced on a daily basis.
‘We should not forget that these people kept our country moving when lockdown was at its tightest. They placed themselves at risk by helping people for whom home working was impossible, as well as transporting key workers to hospitals, care homes and supermarkets.
‘We should not disregard their sacrifices or their commitment. The public, the bus companies and the government all have a part to play in making sure that bus drivers are afforded as much protection as is possible.’
The government had been due to lift lockdown restrictions this week. But the sudden increase in infection rates because of the “Delta” variant of the virus has forced ministers to opt for a more cautious approach.
The Worker Union on Protecting Bus Drivers
There’s still some debate as to whether lockdown happened early enough to give bus drivers protection. University College London, who compiled the research for Transport for London’s report, found that in the first wave of the outbreak, 29 London drivers died from COVID. Of that number, four-fifths had stopped working by April 2020, which suggests that they contracted the disease before the first lockdown took effect at the end of March.
What is clear from this, is that bus drivers need looking after. They need assurances that the public will carry on wearing face masks until COVID is a nasty memory, and they need assurances that this will be policed – either by the bus companies or by existing law enforcement agencies.
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