Unite, which represents over 20,000 bus drivers in London, has described a new report from the University College of London, which found that an earlier lockdown last year would have saved bus drivers’ lives, as a “damning verdict on the failure to protect vulnerable key workers”.
The key finding from the report, published today (Friday March 19), was that 80 per cent of the bus workers who died of Covid-19 in the first wave had ceased work by April 3, 2020.
The report says, “An earlier lockdown would likely have saved lives, with many of the drivers who died having underlying health conditions, putting them at greater risk.”
“This is a damning verdict on the government’s failure to introduce an earlier lockdown” commented Unite regional officer John Murphy.
“The government had the information about the danger of Covid-19 and it failed to act, which dramatically and tragically increased bus driver deaths.
“London bus drivers were essential to keeping the capital moving during the lockdown but they were left needlessly exposed by government inaction.
“When the government should have been locking down and saving lives, it was still talking about herd immunity.
“From well before the lockdown was announced, Unite was forcing bus operators and TfL to stricter safety measures to protect drivers. This culminated in the closing of front doors and the full sealing of the cabs to protect drivers, alongside a host of other measures.
“The government has a moral duty to end the delay in launching a full public inquiry into the pandemic. The reasons for its failure to act and introduce a lockdown earlier must be fully understood and explained,” Murphy concluded.
By Barkley Sumner