ASSAULTS ON V/LINE STAFF SOAR
ASSAULTS and verbal abuse of V/Line staff on the Geelong line have skyrocketed, latest figures reveal.
So far this year V/Line has recorded 41 assaults against staff on the Geelong line, and 378 incidents of verbal abuse.
The figures have almost doubled compared to the year to June 2016, when there were 21 staff assaults and 178 incidents of verbal abuse.
In 2018 so far there have been 360 Geelong trains impacted by unruly behaviour, with 96 services forced to stop to deal with issues on board.
V/Line chief executive James Pinder spoke out against the abuse. “No one should experience abuse, threats or aggressive behaviour in the workplace,” Mr Pinder said.
“Our front-line staff work their hardest every day to help get V/Line passengers where they need to go and should be treated respectfully.”
“Unruly behaviour isn’t tolerated on V/Line services and we will take action if necessary to keep our staff and passengers safe.
“Due to the education work we have done and closer co-ordination with Victoria Police, our staff are more confident to report incidents as they occur.”
Rail, Tram and Bus Union branch secretary Luba Grigorovitch also hit out at the assaults, ramping up calls for staff to work in pairs at certain times.
“Our members have every right to be able to go to work and return home feeling safe and unharmed after a day of serving the travelling public,” Ms Grigorovitch said.
“It is simply not OK to spit on, abuse or assault customer service officers who are simply doing their job.”
The latest figures come after a pair of whistleblowers last year claimed they were sacked after being assaulted by a passenger at Lara station in 2015.
A female conductor who was left with loose teeth after being punched in the mouth claimed she was sacked after raising concerns.
A 17-year-old girl was charged with recklessly causing injury and unlawful assault. The female conductor sacked in June 2016 said she had to step in to protect her colleagues during the Lara assault.
“I stepped forward to basically try and protect them. I saw her hitting (one of the authorised officers) before I got there,” she said in her statement to police. “I gave her a shove to get her away. The next thing I know I have a fist in my face … it felt like my nose had been pushed off my face.”
Three of the four officers involved in the incident were sacked and a WorkCover claim for one was thrown out.
V/Line spokesman Rob Curtain last year told the Addy the outcome of an investigation into the Lara incident was confidential.
He said staff were trained to “retreat” to a safe location at stations or on trains when threatened.