THE Transport Workers Union has called for bus drivers to be taught self defence and demanded tougher penalties for those who attack them following a hideous bashing at Raymond Terrace.
Newcastle and northern branch secretary Mick Forbes said Wednesday’s incident was not isolated and that bus drivers across the state were experiencing increasing violence and abuse.
A union survey of 300 members earlier this year revealed that 32 per cent of drivers had been assaulted while 33 per cent had been spat on.
While acknowledging that bus and taxi drivers often deal with members of the public in various states of mind, Mr Forbes said more could be done to protect them.
‘‘Who knows who is going to step onto the bus next,’’ Mr Forbes said.
‘‘What we’re proposing is that the government make defensive training for drivers mandatory so that if they do find themselves in a similar situation at least they’ll have some idea of how to protect themselves.’’
The Newcastle Herald reported on Friday that a driver was punched, stomped and had a bottle smashed over his head when he ordered a passenger off his bus at Raymond Terrace on Wednesday evening.
A passenger captured the sickening attack on a mobile phone, which can be viewed at theherald.com.au.
The offender pleaded guilty to the assault and will be sentenced next year.
‘‘For someone to bash the hell out of this poor bugger is really disgraceful,’’ Mr Forbes said.
‘‘We acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers, but there’s certainly more that we can do.’’
One proposal the union suggested was increasing the penalties for those who attack bus drivers, similar to the increased penalties for assaulting police, paramedics and other people working in public.
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