Ahead of Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland’s talks later this week with the department of transport, on Saturday May 2, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme asked her what she thought how public transport could and should be made safer from infection. Here’s what she said:
“I think many people would have seen many stories about the concerns we would have had particularly for bus drivers and the difficulties they’ve been facing. We’ve made a huge number of changes to buses in terms of screening, in terms of cleaning, in terms of how they’re operating.
“Other workers can stop and wash their hands and so on – bus drivers cannot do that while they are operating. What we’ve seen on Thursdays when we’re supporting and applauding NHS and care workers, we’ve also seen [last Thursday] key workers and transport workers being recognised often for the first time.
“So I think what we’ve found really important in the discussions with the department of transport is that workers are being represented at the table. This is something we’ve wanted for so long and it happens far too rarely.
“And as we move into the next stages we have to ensure that the confidence we’ve been able to get for transporting the nurses, the care workers and the other key workers, that’s it’s also there in the new ways that we’re operating.”
She was asked what she thought about the idea of commuters taking their own temperature. Would it make members who work as bus drivers or on trains feel safer?
Holland replied, “We have called for and are testing in some areas temperature of transport workers, of bus drivers. We’ve said that that is something that could play a part at least in reducing risk. I think we would be extremely interested in looking at how that would roll out.
“What we want to do is restore confidence. Covid-19 is absolutely critical but there are other issues as well. Public transport has a vital part to play and we don’t confidence in it to be lost.”
Compiled by Martin Scanlon and Amanda Campbell @redmjs @amanda_unite