Socialist Worker

Stop the deaths of London bus drivers

Issue No. 2699

Bus bosses in London are not providing basic protective equipment to workers

Bus bosses in London are not providing basic protective equipment to workers


At least eight London bus workers had died at the start of this week after being infected by Covid-19.

One London Underground worker and one Transport for London worker had also died.

Other transport workers are left terrified that they too are at risk because of bosses’ failures to safeguard their health.

James, a bus driver in south London, said workers were lacking basic personal protective equipment or sanitation measures.

Drivers often rely on pub and cafe toilets during their shifts—but with those closed, workers were struggling to stay clean.

“Drivers are not being given masks or even gloves now because we are being told to wash our hands multiple times throughout the day,” he said.

“That would be great, but since all the shops are shut a massive majority of us don’t even have toilets or sinks to wash our hands.”

Services

More health workers die due to lack of protective equipment
More health workers die due to lack of protective equipment
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He added that workers are having to increase their overtime to cover services left short because of ill or self-isolating drivers. James said, “We are working longer hours doing Saturday duties to cover drivers who are off.

“We are all scared we are going to give our loved ones coronavirus. I have a small son. I’m trying my best not to even see him just in case.”

Drivers and the Unite union, which represents many London bus workers, say there is a shortage of sanitising equipment. Unite regional officer John Murphy said a lack of sanitising wipes was a big problem.

“I understand that because production is dramatically down and factories are closing there is a real ­shortage, but we are calling on Transport for London to seek a new source for them as soon as possible,” he said.

Workers should be given all the necessary protective and sanitising equipment to keep them safe while they deliver a vital public service.

Unite regional secretary, Peter Kavanagh said drivers are “performing a heroic job in getting NHS and care workers to work”.

And transport bosses should make travel free to cut potentially ­dangerous contact between drivers and passengers.

Their reluctance to do so shows how they are prepared to put workers’ lives on the line to keep the revenues ­rolling in.


Transport bosses want shareholder payouts

Transport unions have slammed FirstGroup plans to “maximise substantial returns to shareholders” during the coronavirus crisis.

David Martin, chair of the FirstGroup rail and bus giant, told investors the pandemic could be a profitable time for the company.

He told a conference call, “At the moment, in my experience, this is one of the most exciting times, with potentially real deliverables there and money standing behind it.

“Everybody is on the same page in the one direction of maximising shareholder value and providing the ability to create substantial returns to shareholders.

“That’s our plan of action, we’re extremely robust about it, and we’re looking forward to moving forward.”

FirstGroup is set to receive millions of pounds in taxpayers’ cash to prop up its bus business.

Its shares were up by 3.86 percent on the back of the announcement on Friday of last week. This comes on top of being its rail operations being bailed out by the government.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said, “FirstGroup executives are crowing over shareholders’ payouts for this year, all ultimately courtesy of the tax payer.

“This is appalling stuff even by the standards of the privatised rail and bus industry.


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