Scots launch ‘stop violence’ campaign

02 December 2008

Under the rallying cry ‘Spread some Joy this Christmas – Respect Scotland’s transport workers’, ASLEF in Scotland has, with the transport section of the Unite union, launched a campaign to ensure the safety of transport staff. Yesterday morning some 50 train drivers and the same number of bus drivers passed leaflets out at a media event at Glasgow’s Central Station with MP Jim Devine and MSP Hugh Henry.


The ASLEF turn-out for the event was quite excellent, with drivers from four companies making the journey from Ayr, Polmadie, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Motherwell, Yoker and Gourock.


The union’s officer north of the border, Kevin Lindsay, was delighted with the response. ‘We really got the message over in the media this morning,’ he said. ‘But this is only the start – now we need to put pressure on the Scottish executive to introduce meaningful laws that will ensure transport workers are not attacked or assaulted.


‘No worker should have to tolerate spitting, or verbal or physical abuse. Transport workers deserve protection in the same way as those who work in the emergency services.’


Kevin said he was anxious to have other groups of workers help drive the campaign, like postal, shop and other transport workers, including taxi drivers.


One ASLEF member in Scotland has been assaulted on four different occasions. ‘It is a sad fact that railway stations tend to attract anti-social elements,’ he said. Even more astonishing, a transport union representative described how one of his members had, last Christmas, been attacked by a man wielding a sword. ‘It beggers belief that people can act in this way,’ he said.


Jim Devine, MP for Livingston, was for four years employed in the first Scottish primary care for psychiatric services in Scotland. ‘I was only threatened once during that time, and that was verbally,’ Jim said. ‘I felt I was respected for the work I was doing. It is a sad reflection that people doing the same job today are in a very different situation.


‘We must be aware of the complacent view that ‘it comes with the territory’. It doesn’t. It is not acceptable for any worker at any time. We all have the right to go to work free from fear.’


MSP Hugh Henry echoed this. ‘I have had it said to me that despite changes in Scottish law to defend emergency services workers, they still continue – so it is not worth pursuing. This is nonsense. If we accepted this logic, we would have no sanctions against murderers!’


He said it was right that the campaign had kicked off just before the festive season. ‘Transport workers have a right to enjoy themselves over Christmas and the New Year as well as everyone else,’ he said. ‘That is why your slogan is so appropriate.’


He promised that he would do all he could within the Scottish Parliament to further the union campaign in the coming year.


‘Politicians will rely on you for evidence and support. We will make progress so long as the unions and their political party work in harmony.’


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