action to stem a ‘tidal wave’ of violence was today demanded by transport union
RMT as it launched a campaign to establish an industry-wide code of protection
for workers in the rail, bus and ferry sectors.
zero-tolerance campaigns, an end to unnecessary lone-working, more uniformed
staff and better legal protection for transport workers are at the heart of the
campaign launched by the union today.
surveying its own front-line members, RMT says that official assault figures
represent only the tip of the iceberg, that police fail to attend as many as 40
per cent of reported incidents, and that more than a third of incidents go
4,865 reported assaults against rail workers in 2007 – that’s 13 a day, and a
50 per cent increase on the 2002 figure of 3,179 – and that is also aside from
the 2,064 assaults against staff reported on London Underground in 2006/07.
But data collected from RMT members suggests that most front-line
transport workers can expect to be threatened, abused or physically assaulted
Here are some typical comments from the survey:
"If I reported every verbal assault on a daily basis I would become
a nuisance to the British Transport Police."
"No point in reporting the assault as my company couldn’t care less
for its employees. Profits matter, not people."
Heysham Port Ltd
"Didn’t report the assault, as I didn’t want to be seen as a
"London Underground does not like incidents to be reported and view
staff as the problem if an individual reports too many assaults."
"A colleague was subjected to an armed robbery and the company
seemed more concerned with when they would return to work than their welfare.
It seems to me that while the company pays lip service to protecting and
assisting staff involved in assaults, ultimately its main interest is
protecting revenue. Everything else comes second."
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
The main aim
should be to prevent assaults, but there should also in place adequate care to
ensure that victims of assaults are given all the support and assistance they
campaign already has the backing of 76 MPs who have so far signed an early-day
motion that urges the government and employers to take all necessary steps to
prevent assaults and to secure the strongest possible legal protection for
motion 901 tabled by John McDonnell and signed by 75 others to date states:
House applauds the vital work of Britain’s transport workers who, as essential
public servants, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect; believes there
is a clear responsibility on the Government together with employers in the
rail, ferry and bus industries to take all the necessary steps to prevent staff
assaults and provide care for those who are assaulted; further believes that
reducing staff assaults will help reduce anti-social behaviour and provide a
safer environment for transport users; therefore supports the aims of the
campaign of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union which seeks firstly
to raise awareness with employers and the public, secondly to secure the
strongest possible legal protection for transport workers against assault,
thirdly to establish effective cross company forums in each of the rail, bus
and ferry industries and finally to persuade transport employers to adopt best
practice when developing policies to prevent staff assaults and provide care
for those who are victims of assault.”