A recent investigation by the GMB union has unveiled shocking revelations about the extent of violence faced by workers in various sectors across the UK.
From underpaid ambulance crews to retail workers, fire brigade crews, pharmacists, and prison officers, a distressing number of individuals have fallen victim to violent attacks while carrying out their duties. It is high time we address the underlying issues contributing to this violence and take immediate action to protect the well-being of our workers.
Uncovering the Statistics
According to the GMB union’s investigation, a staggering number of violent attacks have been reported against workers in recent years. The findings revealed that between 2017-18 and 2021-22, at least 9,565 incidents of violence occurred across Britain and Northern Ireland. It is important to note that these figures may be significantly higher, as only eight out of the 13 ambulance trusts provided data. The Midlands region has been particularly affected, with 4,318 assaults recorded. Additionally, during the same period, 1,248 cases of sexual assault were documented.
The Toll on Workers
These acts of violence take a significant toll on the affected workers. Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union, expressed his concerns: “Violence against workers, irrespective of their sector, is utterly deplorable. Whether it’s retail workers, fire brigade crews, pharmacists, or prison officers, no one should have to endure such acts of violence while trying to carry out their job duties.”
The impact of these assaults is not limited to physical harm but also includes psychological and emotional trauma that can affect individuals and their families for years to come.
The Importance of Legislation
Recognizing the urgent need to address this issue, the Assaults Against Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 was introduced, making common assault against emergency staff a specific offense. The legislation also mandates that courts consider such attacks as an aggravating factor during sentencing. However, it is important to note that sexual assaults were initially not covered by the law. Thanks to the persistent efforts of the GMB and its members, the government amended the legislation after a significant increase in reported incidents from 2012 to 2017.
The Way Forward
While progress has been made, it is crucial to acknowledge that more needs to be done to protect workers across all sectors. Violence should never be tolerated. Patrick Harrington further emphasizes, “We must condemn violence against workers in all sectors, whether it’s the retail industry, fire brigade crews, pharmacists, or prison officers. Every worker deserves a safe and secure working environment. The government, employers, and society as a whole must join forces to ensure the safety, well-being, and dignity of all workers.”
Violence against workers is an alarming and reprehensible issue that must be addressed urgently. The GMB investigation serves as a wake-up call to tackle the root causes of this violence and protect workers in all sectors. Our retail workers, fire brigade crews, pharmacists, prison officers, and countless others who serve the public deserve our unwavering support. Let us stand united against violence and create a culture that respects the rights and safety of all workers. It is only through collective effort and decisive action that we can put an end to violence against those who contribute so much to our society.