Government urged to meet transport operators before lockdown is eased

Labour has urged ministers to hold a virtual meeting with transport operators and unions before coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased.

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon warned about the dangers of “contradictory scientific advice and guidance” for essential workers during the pandemic.

In a letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, he wrote that “the job of Government should surely be to cut through that noise and give those that need it clear, unified and constant guidance and direction”.

Different companies have “diverging views on the best approach”, he said.

“It’s clear that, ahead of our frontline workers receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, we need a national operators’ forum with Government, transport operators and unions with driver and other workers’ representatives.

“This would help in understanding the frontline issues, varying approaches and practical solutions to getting the Covid case rate and death rate down.”

Recent figures revealed that deaths of male workers in two transport sectors were among the highest for any occupation in 2020.

Taxi drivers recorded a rate of 101.4 deaths per 100,000 males, compared with a rate of 31.4 among men of the same age in the wider population.

For bus and coach drivers the figure stood at 70.3 deaths per 100,000 males.

The figures were published by the Office for National Statistics and cover deaths registered in England and Wales between March 9 and December 28 2020.