‘Please follow the guidelines’

Family of bus driver who tragically died implore public to stick to safety rules

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Sadly another frontline bus driver hero has died – and many have contracted the virus in this current wave of the Covid pandemic.

Earlier today (January 25) Unite paid tribute to ‘well-loved and respected’ Brighton bus driver Christopher Turnham following his death last week from Covid-19. Together with Christopher’s family, Unite ‘implored’ people to stick to social distancing and wearing face covers rules.

A popular driver for Brighton and Hove buses for 17 years, 58-year-old Christopher regularly drove the 28 and 29 routes. He was also a longstanding Unite workplace rep dedicated to looking after his colleagues. Tragically, Christopher died on Wednesday 20 January shortly after falling ill with coronavirus.

Unite said that there is no indication of where Christopher came into contact with the virus. The union also made clear that Brighton and Hove buses have been working with Unite throughout the pandemic to ensure that it buses, depots and other workplaces are as Covid secure as possible.

The heightened risk to frontline workers, such as bus drivers and others in public facing roles, of coming into contact with the virus, has prompted both Christopher’s family and Unite to remind people to strictly abide by coronavirus safety guidelines.

“Chris was a well-loved and respected driver and Unite workplace representative at Brighton and Hove Buses and he will be terribly missed,” commented Unite regional officer Phil Silkstone said.

“Unite has been working with the company throughout this crisis to make the workplace as safe as possible and there is no indication of where Chris came into contact with the virus. However, this tragic loss highlights the need for everyone to play their part in preventing the spread of this invisible and indiscriminate killer.

Face covers crucial

“Social distancing and face cover wearing by passengers and the general public is particularly crucial for our bus drivers and other key workers, who, like Chris, dutifully put themselves and their families at risk every day to keep our communities running.

“Our thoughts and condolences are with Chris’ friends and family at this incredibly sad time and Unite will be working with the company as always to ensure a safe environment for all.”

In a statement, Chris’ family said, “We are devastated at the passing of our much-loved son, brother and uncle Christopher. He was a truly caring and gentle soul who was loved by so many.

“We are left with a huge hole in our hearts, life will never be the same without him. We do not wish the pain we are feeling to be inflicted upon any other families. Please, we implore you, follow the guidelines and wear a face cover at all times.”


Meanwhile at the other end of the country in Bannockburn, Unite called on First Bus Bannockburn to close its depot – as the Covid outbreak spreads.

On January 23, Unite Scotland voiced growing concerns for the health and well-being of the Bannockburn First Bus depot workforce. During the week it was revealed that First Bus was reducing services out of the depot after a number of staff members tested positive for coronavirus.

Unite has been informed that there are presently 28 positive cases of Covid-19 which represents over half the workforce at the depot, which follows a significant rise of positive cases in the Forth Valley region.

Unite, the UK’s leading transport trade union has now called on First Bus to consider immediately closing the depot, and to provide full-pay for all those workers where it would be unfeasible to work from another depot or who are having to self-isolate due to the outbreak.

“Unite is now aware that there are at present 28 positive cases affecting drivers at the First Bus depot in Bannockburn and that this figure could increase,” commented Graeme Turnbull, Unite industrial officer.

‘Considerable risk and sacrifice’

“This represents over half of the workforce and Unite is asking the company to seriously consider closing the depot in light of the outbreak. This is a timely reminder of the considerable risk and sacrifice that our members and all transport workers undertake on a daily basis to ensure key workers and our communities function in these challenging times.”

Turnbull concluded, “It is also vitally important that the company conducts an immediate investigation to understand how the virus has been able to take hold and spread across the workforce.”

Compiled by Amanda Campbell @amanda_unite

Picture used of model 

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