Coronavirus: Bus driver's death prompts safety row

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Sherwood Bus DepotImage source, Google
Image caption,
Community Transport for Nottingham operates from Sherwood Bus Depot

A community bus firm has been accused of not caring for its staff after the death of a driver who had been self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms.

The man, who worked for CT4N in Nottingham, died at the weekend after becoming unwell on 25 March, five days after starting annual leave.

National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) accused CT4N of a "lack of care" towards staff.

CT4N said it was "devastated" by the driver's death and safety came first.

It said in a statement: "We are identifying staff in at-risk categories and will stand them down from work duties."

Staff members, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the BBC that there was "almost nothing in place" to protect them until this week.

It is claimed that before then, hand sanitiser soon ran out, buses were not being cleaned properly, drivers were still taking cash and there was no signage about social distancing on buses.

They were also sharing a small canteen where they were "shoulder to shoulder", they said.

Mick Cash, general secretary of RMT, said the union was notified of the driver's illness on 26 March and later spoke with the firm about the safety measures in place.

He said: "From our understanding of the situation, we are appalled at the lack of preparation and care they have shown for the workforce and their passengers."

Mr Cash has called for a Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the firm.

CT4N, which as a community service has been asked by the government to keep running, said it had advised staff about safe working practices and new processes were in place before the RMT union called for them on Friday.

It said it had enhanced hand-washing and sanitising facilities, had eliminated cash handling and added more vehicles at peak times to avoid overcrowding.

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