Unite calls on London bus workers to stop work for a minute’s silence over bus worker deaths

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We are all grieving the loss of so many workers in the bus industry in London. Colleagues with families and friends, who were simply coming to work to carry out the critical role of keeping London moving during this time of crisis. Behind each statistic, lies a human tragedy. 

As a mark of all of our respect, we are calling on all London bus workers to stop work and take a minute’s silence at 11am, Friday 17 April so we can all reflect on the terrible loss of our friends and colleagues. Unite has worked tirelessly to maximise protection and minimise risk since this terrible virus took hold just a few short weeks ago. 

And we will continue to explore all avenues. 

We now have: 

  • hand sanitiser for all drivers
  • additional sealing of assault screens
  • seats sealed off behind drivers’ cabs
  • enhanced anti-viral cleaning of cabs and touch-points. 

But we cannot and will not stop there. We are demanding that front doors are closed off, the area behind the cab sealed off and boarding should take place on central (and rear) doors only. A trial has already started on this and positive discussions continue with the Mayor and TfL to roll this out across the fleet. We will apply maximum pressure on this issue. 

We are also demanding that TfL ensures that all companies are complying with the various measures introduced, especially the cleaning regime. The issue of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is being constantly reviewed. We are not scientists, but all the evidence points to the use of gloves for those driving buses as offering little or no protection whatsoever. A gloved hand will still have contact with surfaces and then potentially your face. 

However, Unite is demanding that the government oversees a national effort to produce and procure sufficient supplies of PPE for all front-line workers. 

The official advice from both the World Health Organisation and Public Health England points to masks not affording protection for those outside of clinical settings. However, we understand that many drivers and others will feel safer with a mask and we continue to explore this. 

We have also begun discussions with TfL and the Mayor about the option of insisting that all those travelling on buses should cover their faces to reduce the possibility of spreading infection. 

Finally, Unite has insisted that Reps are stood down in every garage, in order that they can inspect and monitor the various measures that we have managed to introduce. 

It is vital that if you have any concerns about the cleanliness of your bus, the fitness of the additional sealing of assault screens or any other safety issue, that you raise these directly with your Unite garage representative who will advise you and raise your concerns with the management or seek further advice as necessary from the Unite convenor or officer. 

We understand that there is great anxiety among bus workers – across London and throughout the country – and Unite will continue to explore all options, pressure employers and TfL and the national government to introduce all measures to protect your safety.