The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has warned that continued efforts are needed to protect transport workers here amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
It follows reports of the death of 14 public transport workers in London who contracted the virus.
Here in Cork, some concerns had been raised by transport workers in the wake of the pandemic around issues such as handling cash, and the ability to ensure social distancing.
Speaking to the Echo, Dermot O’Leary of the NBRU said that following the news from London, “it is imperative that the companies continue to disinfect worker/commuter areas and touchpoints and ensure that cleaning regime is at the highest standard as recommended by HSE”.
He said there is also an immediate requirement to reduce workers’ exposure to long intervals on the frontline, using flexible rostering.
“We have also impressed upon the employer that staff should not be made to congregate or gather in the workplace. The NBRU will continue to robustly monitor all aspects of adherence to the HSE recommended measure on social distancing and disinfecting customer/staff interface areas.”
Mr O’Leary said the public also has a role to play in protecting transport workers by keeping their distance.
“We’d appeal to people to respect social distancing. Bus drivers and transport workers have to go home at the end of the day.”
The NBRU spokesperson acknowledged that transport companies had been struggling to get personal protective equipment in a competitive market, but said that they had stepped up to the mark on this.
Bus Éireann said its internal co-ordination group is continuing to meet daily to monitor developments around Covid-19. Enhanced cleaning schedules, restricted seating capacity and revised passenger boarding arrangements have been introduced on vehicles while supplies of hand sanitising gel and wipes have been provided for all employees.
“We will continue to engage with and be guided by the relevant health and other government agencies to inform decisions while the Covid-19 issue continues,” the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Irish Rail said it had also introduced a number of measures including increased cleaning and workplace arrangements to ensure social distancing.
It said it had also increased private security resources and is being supported by gardaí to help ensure that those who are travelling are making essential journeys, and to address anti-social behaviour.
“We are grateful to the public who are overwhelmingly adhering to the Government’s guidelines to avoid non-essential travel.
“This is ensuring that our services can accommodate those for whom travel is permitted and essential, and do so while maintaining appropriate physical distancing,” said a spokesperson for the company.