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Bus driver assaults just the tip of the iceberg

Bus driver assaults just the tip of the iceberg…

A bus driver has come forward to tell her harrowing assault story. The driver, who wishes to remain anonymous, was dropping off passengers on her night route in Mangere on July 4th when she was pulled from her bus by three hooded men who then punched and kicked her to the ground.

FIRST Union Transport Organiser Emir Hodzic [E-MEER HOD-ZICH] commends the driver for coming forward and bringing attention to an issue that bus companies can seem complacent about.
“The driver has since seen her attackers and instead of calling the police the company told her to simply continue her bus route.”

He says FIRST Union contacted the company in order to review what safety measures were in place last month as there are concerns some companies are not doing enough to eliminate identified risks to driver safety.

“We know they have panic buttons and some safety protocol but we don’t feel it goes far enough. Both bus companies at Auckland Transport actually have a responsibility here to get together and decide on how to increase security for bus drivers. It’s also evident there’s a lack of security staff at bus depots.”

Mr Hodzic says serious driver assaults occur only a couple of times a year but the incidents highlight bus companies and AT need to have more robust safety procedures.
“We would like to assist Auckland Council and bus companies in coming up with more detailed guidelines and for bus companies to be more proactive in responding to issues when they do arise. Accidents and assaults really affect drivers’ mental health.”

He says a survey FIRST Union undertook in October shows more than half of bus drivers reported being abused or assaulted by passengers while on the job and often the more minor assaults are not reported.
“Every now and then we get a serious one, minor assaults are a lot more common and are sometimes from passengers or other drivers.”

Mr Hodzic adds that drivers are currently facing a raft of issues in the industry, most of which stems from some very long hours.

“Some shifts keep drivers away from home for 11 to 14 hours. This is not ok. This is not enough down time to relax. It’s everyone’s right to have time outside of work to do with what they choose, and for bus drivers in Auckland it’s limited, to non-existent. Pay comes into it also because if they were paid more they wouldn’t have to accept so many hours.”

The sedentary lifestyle of bus drivers also means they often experience a raft of health issues including diabetes, cumulative sleep deprivation, apnea and heart conditions.
“The more time they have to be active in their own loves and with their own families will go a long way to remedying many of these problems.”

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