The TWU (VIC/TAS BRANCH) have made much progress over many years driving up safety conditions across the bus industry, but while drivers are open to attack there is still work to be done. TWU members are strong and stick together and, as our campaign for bus driver safety continues, we remind members to stick together in demanding the highest industry standards of safety for all drivers and the people they transport.
A Brisbane bus driver who was slain while at the wheel a year ago has been remembered with a park renamed in his honour.
Manmeet Alisher, also known as Manmeet Sharma, was letting passengers on board at a Moorooka bus stop when a man set him alight on October 28 last year.
Luxworth Place Park in Moorooka was rededicated as “Manmeet’s Paradise and Park” during an anniversary ceremony on Saturday afternoon.
The Brisbane City Council also arranged for a memorial to be unveiled during a small ceremony with the India-born driver’s family.
Bus drivers earlier gathered at the bus stop outside the Moorvale shopping centre where he was murdered, laying a wreath in his memory at the time of his death.
“A year on he is still sorely missed.”
Mr Alisher was a beloved Indian singer and well known in the Punjabi community and his death prompted a huge outpouring of grief.
Passengers trapped on the burning bus were saved when taxi driver Aguek Nyok kicked out the back door of the bus.
Mr Alisher was remembered as a man filled with big dreams who moved to Brisbane from India.
Punjabi Welfare Association of Australia president Pinky Singh told ABC radio Mr Alisher came to Brisbane to start a new life with his family.
“He was very happy that was his dream,” Ms Singh said.
“When he was in India, that’s what his family said to me, all he wanted to do was come to Australia and do something, to be a star, he wanted to help people, to be there for the community.”
Last November 1, Senior TWU (Vic/Tas Branch) Bus Organiser Mike McNess and fellow Branch Bus Organiser Imran Malik addressed an Indian Community vigil held for Manmeet.
Mike told those gathered at Federation Square that it was incredible to see the support among the local community who had gathered to pay homage to the 29-year-old Brisbane City Council bus driver who died the previous week after allegedly being doused him with a flammable liquid and set him alight.
“This man had his life taken away whilst performing his job as a bus driver,” Mike said.
“Each working person in Australia has the right to go home at the end of the working day. Public transport Unions will continue to campaign for better security for public transport drivers.
“The TWU represents bus drivers in Victoria and we know that our members offer their support and condolences to the family of Manmeet , his friends and fellow drivers.”
In a show of solidarity and support for Manmeet , TWU (Vic/Tas Branch) bus driver members drove for a day with headlights on. CDC also encouraged all drivers to wear black armbands on their left arm for a day.
The tragic death of Manmeet Sharma was also marked by a National Day of Respect for Public Transport Workers, held on Wednesday 9 November 2016.
On December 18 2016, the Andrews Government annoucned that every passenger bus in Victoria will be fitted with perspex security screens and loop barriers to protect drivers from the risk of violent assault following a long and hard-fought TWU campaign.
It is expected the full roll-out of new security screens on about 2000 existing buses will cost an estimated $10 million, to be split evenly between the state authority Public Transport Victoria and operators. All new buses that enter service will also have screens fitted. Read The Age article about the big TWU win.
TWU (Vic/Tas Branch) Secretary John Berger said it was pleasing that a process started by the TWU in 2010 – with the establishment of a TWU Screens Committee following an attack on a Dandenong bus driver and culminating in a driver safety protest on the steps of State Parliament last month – had forced authorities to better protect drivers.