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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 April 2020

Coronavirus

London bus drivers' action over safety stops front door boarding

To help protect drivers from infection, union reps on London buses won agreement that the front bus doors would remain closed

To help protect drivers from infection, union reps on London buses won agreement that the front bus doors would remain closed   (Click to enlarge)

26 transport workers have died from Covid-19 in London, the majority of them bus drivers. Now London bus drivers have forced Transport for London (TfL) and bus companies to implement safety measures to protect them at work. Bus driver and Socialist Party member Moe spoke to the Socialist about what has been won and what needs to happen next.

What has been done?

We have won an important safety measure, forcing bus companies and TfL to close the front doors of every bus and implement free travel, meaning passengers are kept at a safe distance from drivers. This is a victory and now other drivers outside of London are demanding the same.

How did you achieve this victory and why is it so important?

At first TfL resisted because it didn't want to lose revenue. But we got our argument across and forced TfL and management to concede. As we have done every step of the way. When lockdown was first enforced drivers started sealing doors, sealing holes in cab doors and stopping passengers sitting directly behind drivers. TfL and managers then endorsed these measures.

But it should not have taken so long for them to listen to us. 26 people have died, and this could have been avoided. And drivers should not pay the price for the lost revenue further down the line.

What else needs to be done?

What we have achieved is not enough. There are 2,000 London buses that only have one door - the front - and we say these routes should be suspended unless two-door buses can replace them. The other concern we have is that more people are now boarding buses because they are free.

Combined with construction sites reopening after Easter, this means there is concern over passenger numbers. We are happy to transport key construction workers, but non-essential construction sites should be shut down with no loss of pay to protect those workers and lower bus passenger numbers.

Another measure that TfL have brought in is special electronic air filters on buses that are used on hospital routes. But they have been fitted on only 100 buses, while there are 9,000 in London in total! They should be fitted on every bus, and permanently, as they help reduce air pollution.

We are also still calling for more PPE, especially for drivers who have to travel as passengers on buses to get to work or change buses. And we also want lower working hours with no loss of pay. Drivers are mostly working long shifts, 10-12 hours, meaning they are more likely to be exposed to the virus and are fatigued - an issue we were campaigning on before the crisis.

Drivers are still scared to death during their shifts so we will keep fighting.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 21 April 2020:


Frontline workers speak out

Where's our PPE? Where's our testing? Where's our money?

London bus drivers' action over safety stops front door boarding

Care homes coronavirus scandal: blood on their hands

PPE shortages: "I feel so bloody angry"

Trade union activists from across the south of England discuss the battle for safety on the frontline

Management tells carers PPE would 'worry' residents

Councils must demand control of supplies and reversal of austerity

More dispatches from the front: 'There are so many more patients dying'


World economy

World economic crisis: A Marxist approach to the coronavirus crunch


Workplace news

No 'back to school' until outbreak is under control and trade union agreed safety arrangements

DWP: Action on workers' safety, and protection of pay and conditions needed

JD Sports: Shut up shop and give us full pay!

RMT: Lift the suspension of Steve Hedley

Bromley Libraries 'restructure' in middle of pandemic!


Lenin at 150

Lenin at 150: A revolutionary life - and the relevance of his ideas to today's working-class struggles


Coronavirus news

National plan for testing needed

Capitalist press attacks Tory incompetence

Tory think tank proposes attack on pensions

Shocking increase in domestic violence killings

US private healthcare system in meltdown

Coronavirus news in brief


Workplace safety

The history of struggle to make the workplace safe


Campaigns

Excellent support for Socialist Party special appeal

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Clapping, driving, postering - for workers' rights

The role of the Socialist during the corona crisis

Policies that really protect the NHS

Coronavirus: Students' charter

Socialism the Podcast: What do our listeners think?


Readers' opinion

Covid-19 patient speaks out: fantastic support from under-resourced health workers

Going viral: Socialist comments and letters


 

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