More support and greater security needed to prevent harassment of public transport workers

Unite 041Female conductor was subjected repeatedly to physical and sexual harassment by drunken passengers

Those responsible for abusive harassment of public transport workers must face full weight of the law

Unite Regional Officer Davy Thompson called on Translink to provide more support for its frontline staff after the latest incident where a female conductor was subjected to repeated physical and sexual harassment by drunken passengers.

“Like every worker, those employed to provide public transport services have a legitimate expectation that when they go to work they will not be subjected to physical or sexual harassment. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

“In the latest case of abuse against a public transport worker, on Saturday last [April 14th], a female conductor, and member of our union, was working on the Londonderry to Central Station service and was called to deal with concerns raised about the rowdy behaviour of a few passengers. A fellow member of staff had already confiscated alcohol from a group of male passengers and this was being held safely until they got off the train and as they were apparently unhappy with this a number of men saw fit to offer verbal abuse and to grab the female worker painfully, resulting in clear physical and sexual harassment.

“As the passengers exited the train at Mossley West they once again subjected the conductor, whose duties had her to stand at the exit doorway, to further unwanted contact and they became highly abusive in demanding that their alcohol be returned to them.

“The worker who was at the receiving end of this humiliating and violating treatment by these drunken thugs has been very badly shaken by the experience. She is providing the PSNI with a statement on the incident. The full weight of the law must come down on those responsible as a discouragement to others who think that this sort of behaviour is acceptable. Unite also expects Translink management to ensure that this worker is fully and properly supported to get over this experience – unfortunately this has not always been the case in the past.

“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event. Transport workers, like those in the health service, are often at the frontline of abusive and harassing behaviour. While we acknowledge that the chronic underfunding of our public transport services makes this challenging, it is vital that customer-facing workers be given more support and provided greater security from instances of such unacceptable behaviour”, Mr Thompson said.

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