1,000 signatures reached
To: Regional Councils
Better protections for bus drivers in Aotearoa
My name is Gurdeep Singh Sahni, and I am not the first bus driver in New Zealand to be assaulted while at work, and unfortunately, I won’t be the last. But with better protections for bus drivers like me, we can ensure that we’re as safe at work as we possibly can be. I’m asking you to support bus drivers by signing and sharing this petition and showing your support for drivers’ safety on the job.
Three things can be done by our employers and councils to ensure we are safer at work:
1. Install secure cabins for bus drivers for their protection (including retrofitting existing buses).
2. Significantly increase the presence of Transport Officers on buses to keep both drivers and bus users safe, including to be available to assist in de-escalating any issues that may arise.
3. Set up a Workplace Health and Safety Committee in all bus depots and make sure that representatives are properly trained.
These three basic protections outlined above would help significantly in making us feel safer at work and being protected when something inevitably does go wrong – we cannot change passengers’ behaviour on our own, and that is a wider issue that New Zealand should separately be grappling with.
Why is this important?
I am a FIRST Union delegate and bus driver at NZ Bus, and I am launching this petition calling for three important protections for bus drivers at work following a spate of violent attacks by passengers around the country, including being assaulted myself this month at while work in Auckland.
I am a trained health and safety representative, and recently I previously issued my employer with a Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN) following increasing assaults on his colleagues.
The risk of assault by passengers seems to have increased in recent years, especially during and immediately after the Covid-19 pandemic. My fellow bus drivers have been physically harmed, subjected to racist abuse and just about everything else you can possibly think of going wrong involving passengers.
Driving a bus is about much more than just driving the vehicle. Drivers in other transport jobs like freight and logistics don’t have the added stress and responsibility of making sure passengers are safe and on time to their locations, and they don’t have to deal with the consequences of antisocial behaviour and fare evasion. Other transport workers often paid much more than us bus drivers are.
Bus drivers are not punching bags. We are not a person to take out your frustration on or to blame for wider grievances about public transport in your city. We are having to take leave from work, lose income, attend hearings and deal with police over the assaults that happen to us on a weekly or even daily basis, and it is not good enough. We bus drivers are sick of doing their best for passengers and being verbally, racially and physically attacked for it.
All bus drivers deserve to feel safe on the job, and feel respected at our place of work. After all, we're carrying the most precious cargo — the people of our community.