Violence against transport workers has rocketed, prompting demands by transport union RMT for an industry-wide code of protection for workers in the rail, bus and ferry sectors.
According to an RMT survey of its members, there were 4,865 reported assaults against rail workers in 2007 – an average of 13 a day – a 50% increase over the past six years.
There were also 2,064 reported assaults during 2006-07 against London Underground staff – a 17.5% increase on the previous year.
The union claimed that official assault figures represented only the tip of the iceberg, as police failed to attend as many as 40% of reported incidents, and that more than a third of incidents went unreported.
RMT’s charter calls for a unified zero-tolerance approach among all transport employers, with all incidents investigated and appropriate action taken, along with proper risk-assessment, effective training and encouragement to report all incidents.
The campaign already has the backing of 76 MPs who have signed an early-day motion that urges the government and employers to take all necessary steps to prevent assaults.
“The level of violence our members face at work is already unacceptable, yet year-on-year the problem gets worse, and it is time to put staff safety ahead of profits,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said.
“Staff who are attacked should be able to expect the best possible care and support, but all too often the employer’s response falls woefully short. And it is cost-cutting by private operators across the transport that has reduced staffing to the bone and has made transport workers more vulnerable.”