The death of Bristol bus worker due to coronavirus reinforced the call by Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, today (Monday 6 April), for the most stringent hygiene regime for the UK bus industry workforce.
Unite regional secretary for the south west Steve Preddy paid tribute to Unite member Martin Egan who has died from Covid-19 after working for First Group in Bristol for 40 years.
Following Unite’s strong representations, First Group in Bristol has now introduced a raft of safety measures, including the daily availability of gloves, sterilising solution, and face masks; screens on buses completely sealed to protect drivers and social distancing for seating on buses.
Unite is in discussions with other bus companies in the south west on the immediate introduction of a similar package of hygiene measures.
At the weekend, it was announced that five bus workers in London had died from coronavirus and today Unite is pressing for its health & safety reps to be released from their normal duties to police the hygiene regime at depots and on buses in the capital.
Unite regional secretary for the south west Steve Preddy said: “I would like to pay tribute to Martin Egan who was a dedicated and long-serving member of the Unite Bristol bus ‘family’. We offer sympathy and support to his relatives at this heart-breaking time for them.
“Unite continues to discuss with bus operators across the south west the issue of topping up furlough payments to 100 per cent. No worker should be disadvantaged as a result of measures taken to protect their health and well-being
“Our highest motivation as a union is the health safety and well-being of all workers and our communities. The government must do more to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and guarantee a safe working environment for all essential workers, of which bus drivers are a key category.”
Unite national officer for passenger transport Bobby Morton said: “The tragic and sad death of bus workers in London and Bristol reinforces the message for the need for the most stringent hygiene regime throughout the UK bus sector.
“Bus workers are in the key worker category helping keep the UK’s transport arteries open at this time of national emergency. Our officers are working ceaselessly to ensure that their working environments are the safest humanly possible.”