Temperature testing for bus workers must be introduced to reduce risks, says Unite

Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, which represents over 80,000 thousand bus drivers in the UK, is calling on all bus operators to introduce compulsory temperature checks to further protect workers against COVID-19.

London wide trial

Unite is looking for the measures to be initially introduced in London, where 27 bus workers have succumbed to COVID-19, with the temperature checks then rolled out across all bus operators in the UK.

Under Unite’s proposals all bus workers would have their temperature checked as they arrive for work using a laser thermometer. Workers who register a high temperature would then be provided with immediate assistance to access a COVID-19 test, which they are entitled to receive as key workers.

Protected on full pay

The worker with the high temperature would be sent home without loss of pay. Test results are usually known with 72 hours during which time, Unite argues, the worker should be paid with no loss of earnings. If the worker tests negative they quickly return to work. If they test positive they then receive industry sick pay until they are able to return to work.

Unite has been in daily contact with both Transport for London (TfL) and individual bus operators in the capital seeking to get the scheme introduced. An initial trial at one London garage operated by Tower Transit has had positive feedback from the workforce

UK roll out

When it has been successfully introduced in London the scheme should then be quickly rolled out across the UK.

Unite has been at the forefront of ensuring that a series of safety measures have been introduced on buses in London and throughout the rest of the UK to help reduce the exposure of bus workers to COVID-19 which includes the closing of the front doors of buses in London.

Reasonable measures

Unite London regional secretary Pete Kavanagh said: “It is essential that all reasonable measures are taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to protect bus workers.

“By checking temperatures and ensuring drivers are then tested, not only will we be able to reduce the risk of infection but we can also ensure that workers can quickly return to work if the test is negative.

“Once it is identified that a driver has a high temperature the company has a duty of care. The driver is instructed to go home and get tested and further contamination is avoided.

“One person who does not realise they have symptoms could unwittingly infect many of their colleagues.

“If it protects just a handful of workers from an infection that has killed far too many bus workers in London then it is well worth doing.”

Bus worker safety

Unite national officer for passenger transport Bobby Morton said; “This is a really important initiative which should make bus workers safer.

“Unite believes that it is appropriate that London initially tests these measures and then such a scheme is rolled out across the UK’s bus networks.

“Unite is committed to ensuring the safety of bus workers throughout the UK and will support all practical measures to achieve that.”

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