Australian bus drivers threaten to strike over increasing assaults

MELBOURNE, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- The public transport network in Australia's Melbourne could be thrown into chaos with bus drivers' threatening to go on strike over the increasing threat of violence while working.

Transport Safety Victoria (TSV) said that there have been 16 reported physical assaults on Victorian bus drivers so far in 2016, but industry experts have no doubt that the true number is much higher.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU), which represents 70 percent of bus drivers in Victoria, said on Thursday that unless drivers are provided with a safer working environment then its members would refuse to drive buses after 7:30 p.m. local time.

Mike McNess, a senior organizer with the TWU, said that many of the incidents can be traced back to drivers being required to ensure passengers pay a fare when boarding the bus via Victoria's controversial "smartcard" ticketing system, myki.

"Our members are exposed to an ever-growing number of assaults and threatening behavior from passengers," McNess told Fairfax Media on Thursday.

"Our members tell us that the catalyst for these attacks is passengers being requested to touch on their myki when boarding the bus."

The Bus Association has joined the TWU in lobbying the Victorian government to provide bus drivers with screens providing full separation between drivers and the public as well as harsher penalties for those who assault drivers.

[ Editor: meng ]


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