Union calls on Scottish Government to 'immediately improve' safety of bus drivers

Unite, the union which represents thousands of bus workers, has written to Humza Yousaf in the aftermath of Keith Rollinson’s death.

A union has provided a “road map” to immediately improve the safety of bus workers across Scotland after the death of an Elgin driver.

Unite, the union which represents thousands of bus workers, has written to Humza Yousaf in the aftermath of Keith Rollinson’s death following an assault while working in Elgin.

Unite is urging the First Minister and the Scottish Government to work with the union and bus companies to implement a series of safety measures to prevent anti-social and violent behaviour on buses.

They say the frequency of incidents of anti-social behaviour has increased since free bus travel scheme was extended across Scotland.

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

Keith Rollinson was assaulted while working as a bus driver in Elgin.Police Scotland

The proposal comes as the union continues to call for legislation that “makes it a specific offence to assault, threaten or abuse transport workers while at work”.

Currently, the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act 2005 only makes it a specific offence to assault, obstruct or hinder someone providing an emergency service.

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 claims it has mounting evidence which shows that transport workers, including taxi drivers and bus drivers, are vulnerable to assault and robbery with many “fearful about returning to work” following incidents.

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.”

The union said it has repeatedly highlighted that there has been widespread anti-social behaviour for years on buses which pre-exists the extension of the travel schemes such as free bus travel.

However, they have seen the frequency of incidents increase as the scheme’s extend across Scotland, which the union claims it has raised with government ministers.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “Free bus travel is just one of the services provided through the National Entitlement Card and therefore it would not be appropriate for transport operators to remove cards from cardholders due to the impact this could have on access to other services.

“Tackling allegations of antisocial behaviour are matters for the police and local authorities using the enforcement activities available to them.

“We are continuing to work with these partners to strengthen options to tackle antisocial behaviour.

“The legislation underpinning The National Concessionary Travel Scheme for Young People does not make provision for the blocking of cards on this basis.”

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