RMT bus worker survey reveals “wild west approach”

RMT bus worker survey reveals “wild west approach”

29 January 2021

RMT Press Office:

RMT bus worker survey reveals “wild west approach” to enforcing Covid-19 safety regulations just days after the Office of National Statistics publishes data showing that bus drivers were at increased risk of dying from Covid-19.

Days after the ONS published figures which showed that male bus workers are at an increased risk of dying from Covid-19 a new RMT survey of bus workers reveals a “wild west approach” to enforcing Covid-19 safety regulations and measures in the bus industry.

The survey, answered by 900 bus workers, found a shocking lack of enforcement of Covid-19 safety measures across the industry, which is putting bus workers at risk, including:

• 80% of bus workers think enforcement of face coverings on bus services is inadequate
• 70% of bus workers think enforcement of social distancing on bus services is inadequate
• Just a quarter of bus workers know who is responsible for enforcing Covid-19 safety measures on bus services
• Fewer than one in 10 bus workers think enforcement of social distancing and face coverings is taken as seriously on the bus network as it is on the rail network
• 60% of bus workers said their employer had taken no additional steps to protect staff safety since the emergence of the more infectious strain of Covid-19

The survey also found that the lack of an industry wide approach to Covid-19 in the bus industry has created significant disparity in measures being adopted by bus operators to protect workers from coming into contact with Covid-19 at work, for instance:

• More than 4 in 10 bus workers do not have access to washing facilities at work or on their route
• More than half report that their company has not put provisions in place to allow cashless travel, and less than a quarter have an exact fare policy at work to minimise cash handling.

It therefore comes as no surprise that nearly 7 in 10 bus workers believe their employer has put business priorities before safety during the pandemic.

The comments from RMT bus worker members reveal that a cavalier approach to safety is the norm for much of the industry:

“The company is only worried about revenue, not employees”

“We have no washing facilities at all and have to rely on supermarkets if they are open”

“I know the £95 a week SSP (Statutory Sick Pay) for those isolating is causing hardship” “Bus drivers openly say they intend to work if testing positive due to financial stresses”

“Covid safety at work is certainly not the priority”

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

“The latest Covid-19 death figures, released just days ago, show that bus workers have much higher rates of death from Covid-19 than the population as a whole and this survey demonstrates that a wild west approach to enforcement in the bus industry is resulting in avoidable Covid deaths and illness amongst these brave key workers.

“Nearly a year into the pandemic, still not enough is being done by employers and Government to protect bus workers and passengers from Covid-19 risks. RMT’s survey findings should be a wake-up call for bus operators and Government to now agree to our repeated demands for national action through a national bus industry coronavirus forum so that robust measures are put in place to protect the safety of bus workers and passengers.

“RMT will be seeking a urgent meeting with the Bus Minister, Baroness Vere, to discuss these concerns and we are also repeating our call for the government to prioritise transport workers for the vaccine.”


Notes for editors

891 survey responses were received from RMT bus worker members between 26-28th January 2021.

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Tagged with: Covid-19, Bus Workers, ONS, Office of National Statistics