Bus and rail passengers should have to wear face masks, says NBRU

Union says relaxing coronavirus restrictions poses difficulties for public transport

Gardaí on O’Connell Street, Dublin, check passengers on board a Dublin Bus over the weekend. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/ The Irish Times

Gardaí on O’Connell Street, Dublin, check passengers on board a Dublin Bus over the weekend. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/ The Irish Times

 

Transport workers want face masks to be made compulsory for all commuters on their services.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) said on Tuesday that mandatory wearing of face masks for all commuters should be put in place “to ensure maximum protection of frontline staff and enhance customer confidence”.

The union also maintained in a letter to the National Transport Authority (NTA) that frontline transport workers who are required to interact with passengers should have their temperature checked on arrival for work using a laser thermometer.

The NBRU said that while some elements of society would be able to cope with the relaxation of the coronavirus restrictions, public transport would “ encounter significant difficulties, not least due to the constraints associated with fleet capacity”.

The union said that that transport workers who registered a high temperature should be provided with immediate assistance to access a test for the illness, also known as Covid-19.

NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said any worker with a high temperature should be sent home without loss of pay.

“The waiting period for test results should not see the worker concerned suffering any loss of earnings. If the worker tests negative, they quickly return to work. If they test positive, they then receive the previously- agreed sick pay (CIE companies). Go-Ahead Ireland should apply similar payments, using its sick pay scheme.”

The union also called for additional disinfection of transport fleets on a daily basis and the introduction of automatic “no touch” gel dispenser units in all locations where passengers accessed services.

The NBRU said regular Monday to Friday schedules should be re-introduced to increase capacity and that all available fleet should be brought into use.

“It is widely acknowledged that other countries are at different stages with the evolvement of easement measures, this is causing concern for frontline public transport staff that serve our airports, therefore special measures (vetting personnel) will have to be implemented to ensure potential virus carriers are not travelling on public transport services that serve our airports.”