London city bus drivers claim that the government has neglected them during the pandemic period, and fend for themselves when the Covid-19 was sweeping across UK.
According to them, pandemic has revealed the “toxic’ thought process of the bus industry and accused unions for not giving them enough assistance. This claim comes after drivers yesterday wrote to London mayor Sadiq Khan asking bus drivers to be made as priority for vaccination.
According to the data, the official death toll of bus drivers across UK is now 43, and is set to increase further. As per the date collected from ONS, bus drivers are highly vulnerable to the pandemic and need complete assistance. There have 83 bus and coach driver deaths at the rate of 70.3 per 100,000.
In the recent survey by RMT, 60 percent of bus workers complained that their employers took no additional steps for protect them during the pandemic period and also during the new highly infectious strain of Covid-19.
One of the drivers named Chris, who is currently recovering from Covid said, “The day after lockdown was announced there was no management on site when we went in in the morning. We were carrying cling film and sticky tape to try and seal up holes on the doors and the cabs.”
It took his company months to sort out the problem. However, it was mentioned that bud drivers are still under the dark.
“No one would tell us anything about which drivers had tested positive. Obviously if we knew we’d been in contact with that person then we would have stayed away from work.”
He also claimed that during the first wave of the pandemic, he continued to ferry passenger having no social distance.
“Over the last couple of weeks they seem to have started to take this stuff seriously, but that’s nine months after this began. They’re starting to enforce one-way systems and social distancing.”
One of the driver said, he and other drivers had to take action that can help in keeping themselves safe from no social distancing.
“For a while, we were working with front doors being opened and many colleagues of mine took the initiative and changed to central door operating some time before it was mandated by TfL.”
“The drivers have no confidence in the company, which is why they first decided to close the front doors and tell the companies, ‘Well, we’re not opening the front doors. We don’t care about the money. These are our lives at stake, rather than your livelihood’ ” the driver said.
Mileage over Safety
Bus drivers keep coming back saying, “The most important thing for the companies was that we covered the miles. Safety very clearly came second to that.”
Drivers are in constant pressure from managers to keep high mileage and keep giving good result. Drivers were to force to work for at least 10 hours a day for weeks.
“Drivers are not seen as skilled workers, and that filters down to how bus drivers are treated by management. It’s a structural problem – there is a toxic culture of low pay, long hours, and high staff turnover,” one of the drivers said.
However, Claire Mann, the TFL director has something else to counter the claim, “Every death from coronavirus is a tragedy and our thoughts remain with the friends and families of our colleagues who have died. We will continue to do everything that is humanly possible to protect bus drivers.”