Swiss unions raise concerns over stressed and overworked bus drivers
Labour unions have raised the alarm over stressed and overworked employees in Swiss public transport. Already, a few bus services in Basel and Zurich have been significantly delayed due to a lack of available workers, with unions fearing the problem may spread as COVID cases increase this autumn.
Delays in Zurich and Basel due to a shortage of bus drivers
In the last few weeks, the Zurich Transport Authority (VBZ) and the Basel Transport Authority (BVB) have been forced to delay some bus services due to a lack of staff. Both companies have blamed an increase in sick leave for the disruption, with BVB reporting that between 20 and 30 drivers are currently off sick, mostly with COVID.
"If 30 people are missing, then it is not possible to maintain our driving service with the usual quality," said Matthias Hofmann, Head of Traffic at the BVB. He explained that while the current staff shortages may lead to significant delays, the entire route network would not be heavily impacted unless the number of drivers off sick increases significantly.
Staff shortages in Basel and Zurich piling pressure on workers
According to SRF, the large number of workers taking sick leave has piled extra pressure on those who are still at work. “There is an ever-increasing burden on those who already work a lot,” Hofmann conceded, as the BVB admitted to using longer working hours to cushion some of the bottlenecks.
The lack of staff in Basel has now been condemned by the VPOD trade union, with vice president Tania Cucè saying that "with the many COVID cases, dissatisfaction and the overload of the staff has worsened." “Many drivers have been dissatisfied for a long time… The working situation has to improve," she asserted.
The BVB, VBZ and the unions are now in talks to help improve working conditions for bus drivers before the expected rise in COVID cases this autumn. “We have to find a solution as soon as possible,” Cucè concluded.