Unite demands stronger legal protection for bus drivers in wake of horrific fatality

Unite the union has demanded stronger legal protection for bus drivers in Scotland following the horrific news that a bus driver died following an alleged assault in Elgin.
The driver, who has been named as Keith Rollinson, was working at the time of the tragic incident on a Stagecoach bus. Unite extends its deep and sincere condolences to the family of Mr Rollinson who was a member of the union. 
Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: "The appalling news that Mr Rollinson died following an assault at work has shaken our union to its core. We want to express our deep and sincere condolences to Mr Rollinson’s family at this unbearably difficult time.”
“The stark reality is that bus drivers regularly and routinely confront dangerous incidents. It has become an intolerable occupational hazard for bus drivers on a daily basis, especially for those working late at night and in remote areas. Any abuse of workers is entirely unacceptable and Unite will continue to do everything possible to ensure that proper measures are in place to protect workers.”

In the wake of Mr Rollinson’s death, the union has pledged to do all it can to bring in stronger legal protection for bus drivers. Unite has repeatedly called for legislation to be enacted which 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 Scottish Secretary, Derek Thomson, said: “We need legislation which provides stronger statutory protection for transport workers, which is fully enforced. Unite is committed to making this a reality in the interests of thousands of workers who urgently need protection.
“The Scottish government must act to ensure that transport workers are properly protected and Unite will ensure that ministers introduce the necessary measures.” 
The union has mounting evidence which indicates that transport workers, including taxi drivers and bus drivers, are particularly vulnerable to assault and robbery with many fearful about returning to work following incidents. 
Assaults and abuse directed at bus drivers has increased exponentially in the past decade. During the Covid pandemic, Unite members regularly received abuse and threats of violence. Bus drivers have also been subject to physical assault and robbery. This is especially evident while driving late at night and in remote locations, traumatising those workers.