Latest figures show that 57 transport workers in London have died from Covid-19.
The majority, 42, of these were bus workers, highly exposed by their employers' unforgivable foot-dragging over moving to middle-door boarding and implementing additional distancing measures. Eight of the deaths are of Tube/rail workers, with three from TfL offices, and three from outsourced employers.
These are not just statistics. These were 57 real people - workmates and friends, with families, who each leave people devastated by their loss. Their deaths reaffirm that transport workers, especially those who work in passenger-facing jobs, are at high risk. We must demand increased workplace safety.
On the Tube, a full train service is being run, despite ridership being at only 18% of pre-pandemic levels. Although there is some understandable nervousness about advocating service and staffing reductions in line with demand, and fears that bosses could make such cuts permanent, the emergency safety concerns must take precedence here. Only those workers who absolutely need to be in work in order to provide a safe, baseline essential service should be in. LU must ditch new guidance that
RMT has rightly demanded temporary reductions in train services and the suspension of all non-essential engineering work. Staffing levels and shift allocation for station staff and outsourced workers including cleaners should be reviewed by local reps to ensure there is no staffing surplus above essential levels, and the maximum number of workers are able to follow the government's "stay at home" guidance, with no loss of pay.
Our unions should also take up a political fight for an expanded vaccination programme. It's right that more vulnerable people are prioritised, but an expanded programme could also expand prioritisation by extending it to frontline, public-facing workers.