Coronavirus: London bus drivers hit out at 'lack of protection'

BusImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Ten London transport workers including eight bus staff have died after being diagnosed with coronavirus

Two London bus drivers have claimed Covid-19 personal protection measures provided are inadequate, which is putting workers' health at risk.

A Go-Ahead senior driver based at the Barking depot said gloves were only given out to staff who asked for them and there was little hand sanitiser.

Go-Ahead, one of several operators providing services for Transport for London (TfL), has rejected his claims.

Ten transport workers have so far died from Covid-19, London's mayor said.

Eight are bus staff but it has not been made public which London companies they worked for.

The driver, who wished to remain anonymous, contacted the BBC after his friend, who drove for another bus firm, died with coronavirus at the weekend.

'I'm disillusioned'

He claimed staff were being put at risk at his depot and elsewhere because of inadequate protection measures.

"I'm disillusioned, not knowing whether to stay at home and protect myself and my family or go to work and help the nation."

He told the BBC that as well as a lack of gloves and hand sanitiser for drivers, there were too few places to wash hands en route as many toilets were now closed.

The driver also raised concerns most of the 600-plus staff at the Barking depot were not observing social distancing in the mess rooms.

Another Go-Ahead driver recovering from the virus has hit out at the company's safety measures.

"They have given the staff so little to protect themselves. Just cheap hand sanitiser. I brought my own mask and gloves," said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
A second night bus driver has disputed coronavirus hygiene practices at depots

But Go-Ahead said safety was the company's "number one priority".

"Go-Ahead London therefore refutes any suggestion of unsafe practices at Barking Garage, which are a disservice to the hard work taking place on-site to keep 650 colleagues secure as they serve key local workers.

"In close co-operation with our people, the trade union and TfL, the company has introduced enhanced vehicle and workplace cleaning in recent weeks, plus active social distancing measures, as part of a wider safety strategy," it added.

Union Unite has now requested to intervene at the Barking depot saying it is "insisting on all health and safety reps being available in the garage to see that all safety measures are being followed".

Go-Ahead said this would now be taking place.

It also said recently "assault screen holes have been covered, hand sanitiser has been issued and the passenger seats closest to the driving cab are in the process of being withdrawn to users."

TfL said: "The safety of our staff and customers is our absolute priority", adding it was working with the bus companies, the mayor and Unite to keep the bus network safe.

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