James Murray prompted by death of Ranjith Chandrapala from Covid-19
Ranjith Chandrapala with his daughter Leshie. Picture: BBC
James Murray, the MP for Ealing North, is lobbying the government to give death in service benefits for bus drivers and other transport workers who died from Covid-19.
He originally raised the issue with the Chancellor in the Commons on 12 May following the death of local bus driver Ranjith Chandrapala who was his constituent.
The 64-year-old’s route went to Ealing Hospital, and he kept working until he fell ill from Covid-19 and died at the beginning of May.
Officials from the Treasury told Mr Murray later that for death in service benefits to be given to transport workers in these cases a request needed to be made from the Department for Transport.
A month on from his question in the House, Mr Murray has written to the transport minister Grant Shapps saying, “Those working in the NHS, the care sector, and other frontline workers, have been exposed to much greater risk than most to keep the country running. As Secretary of State for Transport, you will know how this has affected transport workers in particular.”
In his letter he raises the case of Mr Chandrapala saying, “His death shows us the shocking impact of the greater risk that transport workers and those from BAME communities face during this outbreak.
“Following Mr Chandrapala’s death, I spoke to his family and I agreed to ask the Government on their behalf to extend the coronavirus life assurance scheme, which the Government introduced for the bereaved families of NHS and care sector workers, to cover the families of bus drivers and other transport workers who die from Covid-19 too.”
The MP said, “I was very sad to hear from his daughter, Leshie, about what happened to Ranjith Chandrapala last month. Despite the risk to himself, he did a vital job driving the 92 bus to Ealing Hospital until he got ill and died of Covid-19. The very least that bus drivers and other transport workers deserve is to be kept safe at work, and for the government to help look after their family if the worst happens. I have made sure the Chancellor’s team are aware of what happened to Ranjith - and I am now pushing the Transport Secretary too, who I hope will play his part in doing the right thing.”
Mr Murray urged the minister to make the request of the Treasury ‘without delay’.
We have contacted the Department for Transport for comment but have not received a response.
June 18, 2020