Get ME home safely: Safe commuting to and from work for transport workers

Get ME home safely: A campaign for safe commuting to and from work for transport workers


Shift work and late-night start or end times are widespread throughout all modes of transport. Thousands of transport workers, particularly women who work night shifts, feel increasingly worried about their safety when travelling to and from work. Violence and sexual harassment are increasing across Europe, with alarming figures on femicides in many countries. However, data on harassment and violence against transport workers and passengers are scarce due to a lack of monitoring, reporting, and enforcement.

Nonetheless, a survey of over 1,000 women transport workers conducted by the ETF revealed a worrying increase in physical, verbal, and non-verbal sexual harassment, stalking, and abuse. 63% of women transport workers across Europe had experienced at least one recent act of violence, and 26% believed that harassment is part of the job and did not report the problem; this includes their commute to work.

A pre-pandemic ETF survey of over 3,000 women identified one of the barriers in transport keeping women from the industry are these high levels of violence and harassment. Already, women in the transport industry are scarce. Numbers report only around 22% of Europe’s transport workers are women. Transport suffers, in general, from an acute worker shortage with more and more workers leaving, an ageing workforce, and not much incentive to recruit newcomers due to poor working conditions.

For most employers, the obligation to care about health and safety at work ends when employees leave the company premises. Current European OSH (Occupational Safety and Health) legislation does not include commuting to work. The mandatory workplace risk assessment does not require an analysis of the individual workers’ journey times and hazards once they have left the workplace. However, given the crucial need to recruit more women to the sector, it is in all employers’ interests to commit to ensuring a safe commute to and from work for their employees.

Local communities also bear responsibilities. They must take more care to ensure safe public spaces for women on their way to parking spaces and at bus, tram, and metro stations. Communities must also care more about safe public transport solutions for late-night shift workers, particularly for women.

Policymakers must provide the legal framework and ensure the financial means to invest in safe infrastructure and public transport. Indeed, ILO (International Labour Organization) Convention C190 concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work applies “when commuting to and from work” (Article 3 (f)).

The ETF campaigns to raise awareness about this problem for thousands of workers working night shifts and, in particular, women transport workers.

Key demands

Safe commuting to work as a political, employer, and local community obligation

1 – Ensuring safe commuting is a political obligation

  • Ratify ILO C190 concerning Violence and Harassment in the World of Work and implement the provisions in national law.
  • Make (gender-based) workplace risk assessment compulsory for commuting to work.       

2 – Safe commuting is an employer’s obligation                                                                       

  • Include commuting to work in the workplace risk assessment.
  • Apply a gender-based risk assessment, including individual journeys to work and “inner company commuting” (e.g. in rail, there is often a significant distance between sanitation, changing rooms and the actual workplace).
  • Monitor violence and aggression at the workplace, including during commuting, and provide gender-segregated data.
  • Provide safe solutions in the absence of public transport (e.g. paid taxis or minibuses) negotiated with the trade unions.

3 – Safe commuting must be a local community obligation

  • Provide safe, accessible, affordable public transport for commuting workers at night.
  • Negotiate solutions between employers, trade unions, and the community.
  • Apply a gender perspective in the planning and design of the city (e.g. business, housing, public transport, childcare).
  • Include women workers’ concerns in the infrastructure design and planning of open space, public transport infrastructure, safe parking areas, public lighting, and technical support.

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