Unite the union deputy Regional Secretary Davy Thompson urged action by the Northern Ireland Executive to prioritise frontline workers in public transport for the rollout of vaccination against Covid-19.
“Unite represents the overwhelming majority of bus and rail workers in Northern Ireland, whether they work for Translink through Ulsterbus, Metro or Northern Ireland Rail, or provide school bus services through the Education Authority. We are calling for these workers to be put to the top of the list when it comes to receiving vaccination for the Covid-19 virus in coming days.
“Across the UK and along with NHS workers, bus and rail workers have borne a very disproportionate number of fatalities from this disease. While as a union we have been able to secure basic infection control protections in the workplace, there is always a limit to their effectiveness. Drivers are confined in a small space for hours at an end and exposed to potential transmission from hundreds of passengers a day.
“Now that we have seen the successful vaccination of frontline health and social care workers, it is important that other sections of the labour force who perform highly at risk roles are extended the same protection.
“Unite has written to the Minister for the Department for Infrastructure, Nichola Mallon, to raise our concerns and to demand that public transport worker are prioritised on the scheme for vaccination. We are extending this call to the Minister for Health, Robin Swann, who has confirmed additional supplies of vaccines have now arrived. Ensuring bus and rail workers get the vaccination early is vital to save lives and to ease the pressure on our NHS”, he concluded.