TUC Blog: Assaults At Work

Submitted by Janine on Mon, 09/11/2006 - 14:05

Monday morning, first session, and that Booth woman is up at the microphone opening her gob already! NASUWT and PCS moved a resolution deploring violence against public service workers and calling on the TUC to set up a national register of assaults. Several union delegates spoke on the subject, probably the best being Matt Wrack of the Fire Brigades Union.

Here's what I got up and said ...

I work on a London Underground station. Everyone I work with has been verbally abused and many of us have also been physically assaulted. Workers in other public services and industries have a similar experience.

Both the government and the employers are making this problem worse.

The employers:

  • cut staffing levels and leave people working alone in remote locations.
  • fail to provide safe transport to and from work for people working extreme shifts.
  • harrass people back to work who need to take sick leave to recover from their injuries and trauma.
    A dishonourable mention must go to London Mayor Ken Livingstone. Last week at the London Chamber of Commerce, he was asked by a boss what employers should do about workers off sick for several weeks. He said, and I quote verbatim, "My advice is to sack them and let them make their case at the industrial tribunal."

The government:

  • underfunds, fragments and privatises public services, leaving those services over-stretched and service users so angry and frustrated that some spill over into violence.
  • And it is consulting on proposals to restrict criminal injuries compensation so that people injured by crimes while at work are less entitled to compensation. Trade unions and the TUC must respond to this consultation and say that the government's plan is not just wrong, it's outrageous.

These decisions and policies are made by well-paid politicians and pen-pushers who do not work on the frontline - on railway stations, in benefits offices, in casualty departments, or in classrooms.

We need to defend ourselves and our workmates from assaults - not just from the person who throws the punch, but from the employers and the government who don't care.