Commenting on the Transport for London (TfL) commissioned report that an earlier lockdown would have saved lives amongst London bus drivers, Unite Regional Officer, John Murphy, said:
“This report makes it quite clear that in its approach to lockdown the government tried to lock the stable door after the horse had bolted. London bus drivers and their families paid a terrible price for the government’s mistakes during the pandemic and these should be fully scrutinised in a public inquiry.
“The report also highlights the serious health consequences driving buses can have on staff, which left many drivers especially vulnerable to the virus. Bus companies cannot continue to ignore the impact carrying out the role has on their drivers’ wellbeing.
“Driving a bus has always been incredibly stressful and fatiguing, especially in cities where there’s lots of passengers and busy streets. Practices such as remote sign on, drivers waiting at bus stops to begin their shifts and excessive hours, as well as a lack of access to toilet, hygiene and meal facilities, compound the role’s numerous health risks.
“These issues need to be addressed both by the bus companies and TfL. The coronavirus has not gone away and the potential for second spikes needs to be urgently prepared for.
"In the immediate term, the monitoring of drivers’ health by employers needs to seriously improve, as does access to hand washing facilities. As a priority, bus companies must also disclose their plans to deal with further incidents.
“The risks associated with bus driving existed long before the coronavirus pandemic, however, and it is crucial that reforms protect against not only the immediate threat, but the long-term impacts drivers face on their health and wellbeing.”