TSSA has written to Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething asking him to re-think his announcement that transport staff will be responsible for enforcing the wearing of face coverings.
This week, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed that face coverings will be mandatory on public transport in Wales from 27 July – a move welcomed by TSSA. However, comments by the Welsh Health Minister that enforcement will be down to “staff and the public” have raised serious concerns.
In his letter, TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes said:
The union boss cites the case of French bus driver Philippe Monguillot, who died of his injuries after being assaulted for asking four passengers to wear face masks.
TSSA is asking for a rethink on enforcement in Wales. Transport staff are not responsible for enforcement in England or Scotland.
Full text of the letter
To: Vaughan Gething, Health Minister, Welsh Assembly
17 July 2020
Dear Vaughan Gething,
I’m writing to you to express our grave concern at comments you made this week apparently requiring transport staff to enforce the wearing of face coverings on public transport in Wales.
On Monday 13 July, Wales’ First Minister announced: "It will become mandatory for people to wear a three-layer face covering while travelling [on public transport] – this includes taxis." This is very welcome in the fight against coronavirus, and brings the situation for public transport in Wales into line with arrangements in England and Scotland.
However, on Wednesday, when questioned further about the arrangements, you announced that the mandatory use of face coverings on public transport in Wales will be enforced by "staff and the public".
It is unacceptable to expect transport staff to enforce the wearing of masks. It has already been ruled out by the British-wide Rail Industry Coronavirus Forum, of which my union is a member.
Such a requirement could bring transport staff into unnecessary conflict with the travelling public, with potentially dangerous consequences. I was shocked to learn of the murder of a French bus driver earlier this week who died of his injuries after being assaulted for asking four passengers to wear face masks. You can read about his case here.
My union represents transport staff across Wales, many of whom are in customer-facing roles. I’m asking you to rethink your approach on enforcement to ensure the safety of transport staff at work.
TSSA General Secretary