75% of tube staff verbally abused, 18% physically assaulted and 1 in 10 sexually harassed by passengers

As London Transport bosses hold summit to discuss workplace violence new RMT survey reveals shocking level of threats, assaults and abuse experienced by Tube staff

As London Transport bosses hold a key summit in the Capital today (19th March)  to discuss workplace violence a new RMT survey of members reveals the shocking level of threats, assaults and abuse experienced by Tube staff on a daily basis the length and breadth of the network. The union will be demanding serious and concrete action at the summit today to turn back the surging tide of violence and hate.

The RMT survey of Tube staff found that when dealing with passengers:

  • Three quarters of those surveyed had been verbally abused with one in five experiencing abuse more than 20 times a year.
  • Over a third of this abuse related to race whilst one in ten examples related to gender.
  • Almost one in five (18%) of Tube staff have been physically assaulted
  • 1 in 10 staff has reported being sexually harassed by passengers. 

The survey provided hundreds of examples of abuse including:

“Customers often revert to race when things don't go their way. There is a culture at LU [where we] are just expected to accept personal attacks and abuse as a part of the job.”

“Abuse is a constant and common occurrence working on the Underground. It happens so regularly that it just becomes a part of it. I have been given abuse referring to my gender and my ethnicity.

“I have been hit and spat at on numerous occasions.”

“When it comes to being punched, it has happened a lot.”

Violence and abuse

“A commuter attempted to push me on to the tracks as a train was coming.”

“Called me a dumb bitch and other such things, then threatened to slit my throat and tried to attack me.”

“Fare dodger flicked out a Stanley knife on me.”

“He pulled out a screw driver and threatened to stab me in the chest area.”

“Customer called me a lazy c*** and his wife became a nuisance, slapped my colleague in his face, she then fell over, husband then head butted my colleague.”

“I’ve been physically assaulted with a belt (with a weighted buckle ) and with death threats on gatelines purely because I asked customers without tickets where they had travelled from and why they didn’t have a ticket.”

“Man head- butted me due to misuse of a freedom pass.”

“Tickets inspectors are regularly assaulted as our numbers have shrunk from 240 to 130 in the last 12 years, with no recruitment.”

Racism & Religion

“Repeatedly been told to go back to my own country (I was born in London).”

“Passengers would always say about how bad Islam is when they assaulted me. E.g. terrorism, invasion. I’ve also been called a "P***” at least 3 times a week.”

“I was called a black f****** n***** many times. I was threatened to be spat at in the face and punched in my ‘big black mouth’. It was also repeatedly thrown in my face that immigrants will soon go home and leave LUL jobs for British people.”

Sexual harassment

“The customer said this is a man’s job and I’m doing a man’s job what I’m doing here etc.”

“Drunk males stopping me walking along platforms by stepping in front of me and making inappropriate comments. Males stopping to ask a question but it's been if I'm single/for my number. Even when I've said no they have continued to push for details or imply they want sexual relations”

“If contactless doesn’t work they want to travel for free & get very aggressive if refused. One incident resulted in customer swearing at me, threatening me & making lewd sexual remarks about my mother.”

“Called me a vagina. Racist abuse regularly. Told to act like a lady.”

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said;

"There is a growing tide of violence and abuse across the London transport network and RMT members are at the sharp end on a daily basis and it is time for the employers to end the warm words and take decisive action to protect both their workforce and the travelling public.

“That means more staff, making the objective “zero tolerance” a reality rather than just a slogan and ensuring that decisive action is taken against those responsible for verbal and physical assaults and that those cases are well publicised to deter others.

“RMT is in no doubt that the current environment has emboldened those with hatred and violence on their minds and the union is taking our case for genuine and meaningful action to turn the tide to the TFL summit today.”

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