Food manufacturer Bernard Matthews has suspended fares on its buses that transport 442 employees to and from its sites, during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
Since Bernard Matthews has increased its bus fares from £3.50 to £6, employee have been increasingly commuting to work via other modes of transport such as train or through car sharing. However, accord to Unite, concerns were raised that this may have contributed to a Coronavirus outbreak at one of Bernard Matthew’s sites in Holton, Suffolk. The organisation has also suspended plans to cancel a subsidised bus route to Great Witchingham in Norfolk.
Bernard Matthews hopes the suspension of fares will encourage employees back onto the buses and minimise cases of the Coronavirus, and will review its decision at a later date.
Mark Jaina, regional officer at Unite, said: “Unite welcomes Bernard Matthews’ suspension of fares on staff buses to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus. This decision was the result of collective pressure from Holton and Great Witchingham staff standing together in a union.
“Without guarantees on the length of the fare suspension or a return to an affordable charge, however, many employees will be unwilling to gamble their place in a car share to sites not accessible by public transport.
“Bernard Matthews should also be providing low paid staff with enough sick pay to self-isolate. Not to do so increases the risk of further outbreaks at Bernard Matthews and in the community.”