23 December 2019
RMT Press Office:
Widespread violence against Transport Workers not just a Christmas menace, new survey reveals.
A new survey by transport union RMT has found that a massive 72% of frontline transport workers have experienced workplace violence in the last year alone. Of those, nearly 90% had been subjected to violence on multiple occasions. The RMT survey comes just days after a particularly brutal and savage incident at Manchester Victoria which has sparked outrage throughout the industry.
The survey of members working in rail, on London Underground and on buses and ferries, has been released as employers promote advertising campaigns against violence to transport workers during the festive season. While alcohol related incidents peak during the festive period, these results prove that work-related violence is a year-round problem for transport workers, and that many employers are not taking action to prevent violence and protect their workers.
The most common form of attack was verbal abuse, with over 90% of victims experiencing this. Transport workers also describe being spat at, sexually assaulted, racially abused and threatened with violence or physical assault. Shockingly, nearly a quarter of transport workers had been physically assaulted at work in the last year:
“I have been assaulted more times in the railway in a year than as a prison officer of 15 years (Rail worker).”
“Member of the public came up to me and told me he was going to take me round the back of the station and rape me (London Underground worker).”
“Every day I suffer abuse in the work place (Ferry worker).”
Despite the high rate of incidents, nearly all workers who were subjected to workplace violence did not take any time off work with 70% of workers who experienced violence not satisfied with their employers’ response:
“I don’t get sick pay so can’t afford to take time off (Bus worker).”
“We get threatened by management saying ‘maybe this is not the job for you’ if we complain or take time off (Rail worker).”
“The employer has taken no responsibility and has not shown any duty of care (Ferry worker).”
“Shockingly, over 60% of all transport workers had not even been told how to report violence at work.”
70% of RMT transport worker members say there has been an increase in violence in the last year. Reasons given for this include an increase in lone working, and the Tory cuts to the British Transport Police which have seen the force decimated in recent years:
“Lone working is the single most important and common factor in the sharp rise of workplace violence. 90% of the time, the criminals say things like ‘you can’t stop me, you’re alone’. (London Underground worker).”
“Drastically [increased], it’s dangerous and they want you to work on your own and state a body camera is your protection. There is no place of safety where I work. (Rail worker).”
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“It is clear from these findings that violence and abuse against transport workers has reached epidemic proportions, exacerbated by increased lone working, cuts to staffing and cuts to the police force. Coming just days after a particularly brutal incident at Manchester Victoria RMT will be stepping up the campaigning on this issue with the demand for urgent and decisive measures to be taken to protect staff thoughout the industry.
"It is frankly disgusting that the very same group of workers that the Government is planning to ban from taking strike action to defend safety are the ones getting battered day in and day out with little or no serious protection.
“Transport employers must take action to prevent violence and protect their staff and there must be tougher penalties against those who offend. Only a zero-tolerance approach will do. It is not acceptable that transport workers are being told that violence and abuse is ‘just part of the job’.
“RMT will be ramping up its campaign against violence at work in the coming months and will take whatever action is necessary to support our members.”