Department for Infrastructure infection control recommendation for facemasks to be worn on public transport must be made compulsory

Unite 041Clarity needed that services on cross-border bus and rail routes will adopt same approach to infection control either side of border

Adequate funding for additional public transport services to facilitate social distancing needed from Finance Minister Conor Murphy

Davy Thompson, Unite Deputy Regional Secretary, welcomed today’s recommendation by the Department for Infrastructure that those using public transport, as well as those providing the service, should wear facemasks but called for Infrastructure Minister Nicola Mallon to make the measure compulsory to better protect workers and passengers.

“As the trade union for frontline public transport workers, Unite has been making the case that drivers and other workers coming into contact with the public should be provided with facemasks as a routine infection control. We have also argued that passengers be required to wear facemasks during their journeys in order to better protect themselves and our members.

“Today’s announcement by the Department of a recommendation to wear facemasks is welcome but does not go far enough. It is not enough for the Minister to recommend the public wear face masks on buses and trains – we need to see them made compulsory. Our drivers’ lives and those of fellow travellers are at stake – we need every possible protection.

“We are also concerned that if there is a different approach taken North and South drivers and inspectors on cross-border services could be placed in the invidious position of having to police different infection control regimes as the vehicle crosses the frontier. It is absolutely essential that we get a common approach in both jurisdictions on this island.

“Facemasks alone are not enough to protect passengers and our members – we need to see social-distancing secured through additional funding of public transport services. Unite is therefore calling on the Minister for Finance to step up with adequate funding to enable Translink to provide the additional services needed to safely carry passengers given the need for social distancing. Our drivers who putting themselves forward to deliver an essential service deserve nothing less”, Mr Thompson concluded.

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