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Unite is seeking urgent talks over the future of wearing face masks on public transport after calling the government’s decision to end the requirement to wear them as an act of ‘gross negligence’.
In particular, the union is seeking talks with London mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London chiefs to propose that passengers in the capital should continue to be required to wear masks. Unite represents some 20,000 bus drivers in the capital alone.
Unite leaders will argue that with infection rates rising rapidly and with many people who travel on London buses, such as schoolchildren, being unvaccinated, the risk of transmission is reaching a level that is “entirely unacceptable”.
Drivers, said Unite, frequently use buses to go to work and then travel along a route to pick up the bus they are required to drive. So although when driving they have specially designed shields to protect them against the largely airborne virus, for some of the time they are passengers just as fare-paying members of the public are.
The union said that ridership on public transport was bound to increase dramatically as more offices reopened. However, if people lost confidence in the safety of buses and trains because of reduced mask wearing, then firms' hybrid work plans could be hit