Union calls on First Bus to close depot as Covid outbreak spreads

Union chiefs have called on First Bus to close its Bannockburn depot, after reports that a fifth of the workforce have tested positive for covid-19.

By Jolene Campbell
Saturday, 23rd January 2021, 7:12 pm
Picture : John Devlin
Picture : John Devlin

Transport trade union Unite Scotland urged the bus operator to immediately close the depot to stop further spread of the virus, as bosses were informed there are now 28 positive cases of Covid-19 among drivers.

First Bus said it has no plans to close the depot, which has 129 members of staff.

The Operator reduced services out of the depot this week after a number of staff members tested positive for coronavirus, following a significant rise of positive cases in the Forth Valley region.

Bannockburn bus depot

A spokesperson said the firm was reviewing its timetable to ease the pressure on staff workload following the outbreak.

Unite has now called on First Bus to provide full-pay for all those workers where it would be unfeasible to work from another depot or who are having to self-isolate due to the outbreak.

Graeme Turnbull, Unite industrial officer said: "Unite is now aware that there are at present 28 positive cases affecting drivers at the First Bus depot in Bannockburn and that this figure could increase. This represents over half of the workforce, and Unite is asking the company to seriously consider closing the depot in light of the outbreak.

"This is a timely reminder of the considerable risk and sacrifice that our members, and all transport workers, undertake on a daily basis to ensure key workers and our communities function in these challenging times. It is also vitally important that the company conducts an immediate investigation to understand how the virus has been able to take hold and spread across the workforce.”

NHS Forth Valley said its Test and Protect team is currently carrying out Covid-19 contact tracing, and appropriate action is being taken by its Public Health Team.

Andrew Jarvis, Managing Director for First Midland said: “I can confirm that a number of our colleagues at our First Midland Bannockburn depot with confirmed cases of Covid 19 have been reported to the NHS Forth Valley Public Health as part of our protocols.

“We are fully supporting our colleagues and wish them a speedy recovery. We are no different to any other business across the country as the pandemic has once again seen a general spike in cases across the country in recent weeks.

“We have worked closely with NHS Forth Valley from the first positive case being uncovered to ensure we had a handle on the situation.

“We have been in full contact throughout with our Unite the Union representatives locally who have been in full agreement with the steps we have taken to ensure the safety of our colleagues.

“We have sent all staff for asymptomatic testing, added additional safety measures on site on the advice of NHS Forth Valley and reduced services to cope with the demands to keep services running for key workers and essential journeys.

“There are currently no plans to close the depot given these mitigating factors we have put in place to ensure the safety of our staff and customers.”

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