Five London Bus Workers Die After Contracting Coronavirus

Unite the Union said officers were holding daily meetings with Transport for London to "explore further safety improvements" on the network,
Unite the Union confirmed the news on Saturday.
Unite the Union confirmed the news on Saturday.
Kevin Coombs / Reuters

Five London bus workers have died after contracting coronavirus, the Unite union has said.

A spokesperson for Unite said that while some of the workers who had died were believed to be drivers, at least two of the Transport for London (TfL) employees were working as bus controllers.

Unite regional secretary, Peter Kavanagh said every one of the deaths was a “terrible tragedy”.

He added: “Unite will assist the families of our members in every possible way during this terrible time.

“Unite has been working continuously with TfL and the operators to ensure the safety of drivers and others in the industry who are performing a heroic job in getting NHS and care workers to their places of work.

“These measures include deep cleaning of buses, additional cleaning of touch points, the sealing of screens around the driver, the provision of hand sanitiser for all and placing the passenger seating closest to the driver out of bounds.”

HuffPost UK has contacted TFL for further comment.

Earlier this week, a depot worker told HuffPost UK that some members of staff felt like “guinea pigs”, and said drivers were not being provided with protective gear such as face masks and gloves.

“The buses aren’t even clean – how about that?” said Lorraine, a 57-year-old worker at a depot in south London.

She added: “The manager’s not there, he’s at home because he has underlying health issues, so that’s not being sorted. Other managers are off and I don’t know why; some are able to work from home while we, the drivers, cannot.

“More cleaners need to be brought in.”

In response to the workers claims a TFL spokesperson said the network, including all buses, were cleaned thoroughly, with all regularly touched areas, such as poles and doors, carefully wiped down with a strong disinfectant every day.

Kavanagh said: “I have been in direct contact with the mayor of London who shares our view that bus drivers must be fully protected.

“My officers are holding daily meetings with TfL, exploring further safety improvements and we are absolutely committed to doing everything in our power to make the driving of buses safe during this unprecedented crisis.

“We are also calling on the government to make provisions for transport workers in terms of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“If any driver has safety concerns, then it is imperative that they inform their employer and Unite representative immediately. The union will immediately act on all such concerns.”