Sadiq Khan has been urged to provide London’s transport workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) after 21 of them died of coronavirus.
London’s Mayor was accused of failing to defend Transport for London (TFL) staff by Mayor candidate Shaun Bailey.
Speaking to talkRADIO’s Mike Graham, he said: “[Mr Khan] seems to think his responsibility is to attack the government. I believe his responsibility is to defend the workers that work for him.”
Mr Bailey had said that the chances of contracting coronavirus were higher for transport staff than NHS employees.
“21 TfL workers have tragically died, out of a workforce of 60,000. 34 NHS workers have tragically died, out of a workforce of 1.5m. How is it possible that under @sadiqkhan, you are more likely to contract Covid-19 on a bus than at a hospital treating coronavirus patients?” he tweeted.
Mr Bailey urged the Mayor to buy PPE for all London workers and he claimed the Greater London Assembly and TFL have reserves of £3bn which could cover the cost.
“He has the money and Lord knows this is an emergency,” Mr Bailey said. “This isn’t about politics; this is just about that action Londoners need. Please buy the PPE. It’s there, it exists, give it out.”
Mr Khan earlier said the deaths had left him heartbroken. “It breaks my heart that 21 transport workers, including 15 London bus workers, have tragically died from Covid-19.
“My thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones at this very difficult time. This is deeply personal - I can’t help but think that this could have been my dad or his colleagues and friends,” he said in a statement.
Mr Khan stressed he was doing everything he could to safeguard transport workers and passengers “who ensure nurses, doctors and other key workers can get to where they are needed.”
Last week he tweeted that the lack of PPE for medical staff was a “scandal” and urged the government to work with international partners “to overcome these challenges”.
Some bus operators are discouraging passengers from using seats near drivers and covering the speaking holes in protective screens to keep staff safe.
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