Wales drivers positive as RMT raises safety fears


Bus services in Wrexham, North Wales have been severely disrupted after 28 drivers tested positive for COVID-19.

The company said on Tuesday morning that due to increased employee absence, services in the area would run on emergency timetables from Wednesday (13 January).

A spokesperson for Arriva said: ‘We are fully supporting all colleagues who need to self-isolate. The safety of our customers and colleagues is our number one priority and we are being guided every step of the way by expert organisations such as the Health and Safety Executive and Public Health Wales.

‘This has caused inevitable disruption to our bus network in Wrexham and we are working to address this as quickly as we can.’

The company claimed that its buses ‘continue to be Covid-19 secure’, with an enhanced cleaning regime in place, ‘ensuring all touch-point surfaces, both on our buses and in our depots, are regularly deep cleaned’.

The spokesperson added: ‘Our drivers sit behind screens that separate them from customers and seats within two metres of each other are not in use.

‘We will continue to follow all the latest guidance to keep our workspaces and buses COVID-19 secure and our colleagues and customers safe. Customers are advised to play their part by adhering to the law and wearing face coverings unless exempt.’

Separately, the RMT union is demanding immediate action by Transport for London amid the surge in cases in London, citing the deaths of ‘at least three TfL workers’ in recent days.

It has written to both mayor Sadiq Khan and London Underground, calling for an urgent upscaling of safety measures to protect staff.

General secretary Mick Cash said: ‘RMT is demanding urgent action to protect essential transport workers who have been keeping London moving since the Covid pandemic began some nine months ago. With three deaths in recent days of TfL workers amidst the rise of the new Covid variant immediate steps need to be taken now.

‘The union will be backing staff who are vulnerable and if they need to withdraw to the safety of their home then we will support them. The only way we can get through the pandemic to the other side of a vaccinated and safe London is if transport staff are adequately protected.

‘While we do not wish to enter into a dispute situation in this matter, we rule nothing out if our demands are not met, as we believe the employer and those responsible for TfL should take the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of its workers and the wider community.’

London Underground managing director Andy Lord, said: 'I would like to express my sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of our colleagues who have sadly passed away from coronavirus. The safety of our colleagues and customers is the most important thing to us and we are regularly meeting with the trade unions to work together and respond to their concerns.

'We continue to follow Public Heath England and government guidance and we are supporting clinically extremely vulnerable colleagues to shield at home. We will continue to take robust measures to reduce the risk of infection in workplaces in addition to the continued regular rigorous cleaning of the transport network and staff facilities.'

Last week the RMT declared a dispute on Cross Country trains over what it called the failure of the company to recognise lethal implications of the new COVID variant.


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