Covid: Three out of four London transport staff subjected to violence at work during pandemic

A London bus driver wearing a protective face mask on Westminster Bridge, London, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the decision to put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A London bus driver wearing a protective face mask on Westminster Bridge.

Three out of four London transport staff have been subjected to violence at work during the Covid crisis, union research shows, with many blaming the government's "mixed messaging" for exacerbating the problem.

More than half of Rail, Maritime and Transport union workers who responded to the survey reported being threatened with physical violence, 28% were racially harassed, 14% reported being spat at or targeted with bodily fluids and 7% had been sexually assaulted.

Three out of five respondents said they believed violence had got worse since the pandemic, with most of the 1,000 workers surveyed saying the government’s “mixed messaging” around the lifting of Covid restrictions had made the situation worse for staff.

The union said the results showed workers in public-facing roles on London Underground and Transport for London rail networks needed more support.RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Life on the front line of London’s transport has got harder and more dangerous for the key workers who have kept the capital moving during the Covid crisis.

“I don’t want to hear more condescending ‘thank yous’ from Government ministers who are trying to drive down our members’ living conditions while sowing chaos in their shambolic response to the coronavirus.

“We need a total sea change in attitudes toward staff in which we see them as central to rebuilding passenger confidence and to creating a safer working and travelling environment.”