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Bus drivers take industrial action over Covid-19 fears

Buses are off the roads after operators took industrial action amid mounting Covid-19 infections (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Bus services were yesterday cancelled after drivers took industrial action over Covid-19 fears.

A transport ministry spokeswoman said the staff had “raised concerns regarding health and safety in the workplace”.

The news came after Derrick Binns, the head of the public service, earlier said the bus service was among several affected by the coronavirus outbreak - but failed to say operators had downed tools.

Dr Binns said instead that the island was going through “a very rapid and serious outbreak of the coronavirus” that had caused “a significant impact on staffing resources”.

Government services have been cut back since the start of the week due to increased staff shortages.

Dr Binns said: “Our resources are being stretched.”

“While our public servants will work tirelessly over the next few weeks to continue to prioritise client needs, we are asking for the public’s patience as there may be delays in turnaround times or interruptions of services due to the limited staff resources.”

The spokeswoman added: “The Department of Public Transport stressed...that is considers the health, safety and well-being of all bus operators, staff and commuters the hightest priority.”

She said that the department’s cleaning methods “strictly adhere” to health ministry guidelines.

The spokeswoman added: “The DPT remains fully committed to ensuring the safest possible environment for all DPT staff and the travelling public as we navigate the pandemic.”

She said the department would update the public on any progress in the dispute.

Dr Binns earlier listed several other Government departments that had been hit by the pandemic.

He warned that postal services would be delayed and staff at other Government departments had been forced to work on a remote basis.

Dr Binns said: “Currently, many Government departments have instituted a mix of in-office and remote working.

“And, since the onset of Covid-19, many Government departments implemented virtual and online services to allow them to continue to provide services to the public.

“During this current outbreak, where necessary, departments have reinstituted these protocols to assist the public.

“While our public servants will work tirelessly over the next few weeks to continue to prioritise client needs, we are asking for the public’s patience as there may be delays in turnaround times or interruptions of services due to the limited staff resources.”

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Published September 18, 2021 at 7:56 am (Updated September 18, 2021 at 7:56 am)

Bus drivers take industrial action over Covid-19 fears

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