ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
TWU (VIC/TAS Branch) demands that assaults which injure bus drivers be categorised as schedule 1 offences requiring offenders serve a jail time is gaining some serious media attention.
John said members are sick and tired of random attacks by aggressive passengers and Union concerns for member and commuter safety is rising with the escalating number and nature of assaults.
The Union has called on the Victorian Government to include passenger vehicle drivers in legislation it has announced will be introduced to the Parliament in coming weeks which will see anyone who attacks and injures an emergency worker, including police and paramedics, receive a custodial sentence. Watch this space – we will update members as news comes to hand.
The call follows another appalling attack on a driver who was abused and robbed on Tuesday in Hastings, on the Mornington Peninsula.
Following Tuesday’s robbery, drivers – through a TWU Delegate – informed the bus operator that they were afraid for their safety and concerned about continuing to service the area.
A meeting was subsequently held between the TWU and the operator who agreed to organise for security personal to patrol the area.
Police were also contacted and it was agreed that Authorised Officers would also be dispatched to the area.
The TWU have secured some important reforms for drivers in recent times, including the introduction of driver security screens and voice-over technology removing the onus on drivers to ask passengers to ‘touch-on’.
However, the TWU is also calling for:
Additional Authorised Officers on buses and the jurisdiction for Protective Service Officers be extended to the bus network,
The introduction of mandatory minimum penalties and custodial sentences for those who attack drivers, and
The installation of CCTV in buses made compulsory.
Since 2011, nearly 200 Victorian bus drivers have been physically-assaulted and 33 verbally-abused, including racially-vilified, according to Transport Safety Victoria.
TWU (VIC/TAS Branch) Secretary and TWU National Vice-President John Berger said members were sick and tired of random attacks by aggressive passengers and drivers deserved the basic right to a safe workplace.
“Bus drivers were once highly-respected members of the community, this is sadly no longer the case,” Mr Berger said.
“There is no other profession in Australia where being spat on, used as a punching bag, knocked unconscious, having a knife held to the throat or enduring a verbal onslaught is shrugged off as an occupational hazard.
“For too long both Operators and PTV have turned a blind eye to the growing number of often vicious and unprovoked attacks on bus drivers and it is time they displayed some leadership.
“These workers perform an important community service and are trusted to ensure passengers, including many elderly and children who rely on bus services, arrive at their destinations safely. Today’s assault occurred while the bus was stationary, but many are perpetrated by thugs sometimes using weapons while buses are travelling at speed.
“It is shameful that, in doing their job, drivers are currently fully-exposed, alone and susceptible to opportunistic and petty robbery and assault and left to fend for themselves without any protections. This is a critical situation and it is beyond time for this to change.”
Ticketing disputes, which have skyrocketed since the introduction of Myki by PTV in May 2013, substance-use and shortening run times are the principal catalyst for assaults and threatening behaviour on bus drivers.
A 2016 TWU survey of Victorian bus drivers found 90-per-cent of respondents disclose that threats of assault and abuse had made the job more dangerous today compared to when they began working. And 80-per-cent of respondents said they no longer bothered reporting assaults as they believed past complaints had not been acted on appropriately.