Bus drivers in London face “shocking” levels of abuse, spitting and physical assaults but often do not report incidents for fear of being blamed or disciplined, a new study reveals.
A survey of 6,000 members of Unite found that one in eight had been spat at in the past year, while 86% suffered from verbal abuse and 2% had been physically assaulted.
At least half the incidents were not reported by the driver to their employers because of fears of being blamed or disciplined or a lack of faith that the police would investigate, said Unite.
Regional officer John Murphy said: “This survey reveals the shocking levels of abuse and variety of assaults London’s bus drivers face as part of their job in keeping London moving.
“No one should have to put up with being spat at, verbally abused or physically assaulted. The common expectation that drivers should carry on with driving duties with spit either on these screens or within the bus is unacceptable and a serious health concern for bus drivers and passengers alike.
“More needs to be done by bus operators to support drivers who are assaulted and they need the confidence that when they report it, action will be taken against perpetrators. This means paid time off to report assaults, spit kits in every bus and a zero-tolerance approach to any form of assaults.”
Steve Burton, Transport for London’s director of enforcement, said: “Everyone has the right to go about their work without fear or intimidation and we will not tolerate any form of verbal or physical assault on transport staff.
“Working closely with the police, our dedicated workplace support team are always available to support bus drivers through these terrible incidents and along with the police they work tirelessly to bring perpetrators to justice.”