Unite calls for more efforts to protect drivers

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Trade union Unite has stepped up its efforts in Scotland to protect bus drivers by offering a ‘road map’ to immediately improve the safety of bus workers following the fatal stabbing of a driver in Elgin last month.

The union has written to First Minister Humza Yousaf in the aftermath of driver Keith Rollinson’s death, and urged him and the wider Scottish Government to work with the union and with bus operators to implement a series of safety measures to discourage anti-social and violent behaviour on buses.

The union’s road map includes increasing the presence of police officers or community wardens on buses, CCTV coverage on buses and at bus stations, and panic buttons and other enhanced safety features installed on buses, including internal locking systems.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Thousands of bus drivers across Scotland are increasingly anxious and nervous about going to work. Unite has set out a road map which would significantly enhance safety and it is one that could be implemented immediately. We will do everything possible to ensure that proper measures are in place to protect bus workers.”

The union has previously called for legislation to be enacted which makes it a specific offence to assault, threaten or abuse transport workers while at work, and says it has mounting evidence which indicates that transport workers, including taxi and bus drivers, are particularly vulnerable to assault and robbery with many fearful about returning to work following incidents.

Unite says that there has been widespread anti-social behaviour for years on buses which pre-exists the extension of the Scottish under 22s free travel scheme, which many suggested would lead to an increase in antisocial behaviour by young people on buses. The union says that it believes the frequency of incidents has increased in line with the scheme’s extension.

Unite Scottish secretary Derek Thomson said: “Unite’s road map towards greater safety for bus workers is one which can be adopted right away. We need support from industry and government to work with us in delivering this plan in the interests of thousands of bus workers and passengers.
“The road map however will only take us so far down the road in addressing the wave of anti-social behaviour and violence towards bus workers. We also need legislation which provides stronger statutory protection for transport workers, which is enforced.

“Unite is asking that the First Minister provides his support to our campaign, and we will hold the Scottish Government to account for any inaction.”