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UK Water Workers Have Been Attacked And Abused Over Sewage Crisis

Thames Water

More than a third of UK water workers have reported verbal abuse on the job, a survey of nearly 1,300 employees by the GMB union revealed. 

The findings come as tensions continue to rise over sewage dumping incidents. 

In some cases, the situation has escalated to physical assaults and safety concerns among workers, particularly those operating solo.

The data has been released a public outrage continues following a record year of storm water pollution.

There has been over 3.6 million hours of raw sewage discharges into rivers and seas.

The backlash has primarily targeted water companies, notably Thames Water.

The company has has faced financial scrutiny and public and political condemnation over its handling of leaks and spills. 

This public fury has directly impacted frontline workers, with instances of "very hostile" abuse.

It includes severe assaults and dangerous confrontations reported anonymously to the GMB and shared with the Guardian.

Workers recount harrowing experiences of physical violence, including an assault leading to a broken jaw and an attack with a machete. 

Other testimonies describe demeaning actions by the public, such as intentionally splashing workers with sewage during cleanup efforts. 

The survey indicated that half of the respondents believe the increase in abuse is tied to the widespread reports of sewage dumping.

"No one should go to work and face abuse"

The findings also highlight concerns over inadequate infrastructure, with only 20 percent of workers confident in the current system's ability to prevent leaks. 

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Additionally, there's a notable worry about the under-reporting of sewage spills, with one in five workers aware of encouragement or instances of minimising spill incidents.

Gary Carter, GMB national officer, said: “No one should go to work and face abuse. 

“But this situation is horrifying, because the negligent actions of water bosses in allowing sewage dumping to rocket has exposed their own workers to physical and verbal violence.

“GMB demands a zero tolerance approach to the abuse of water workers – and calls on water shareholders to fork out for the desperately need infrastructure to stop record sewage spills.”

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency has launched a whistleblower portal to curb sewage pollution and hold companies accountable for environmental violations.

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