Empowering Women in Transport: A Crucial Battle for Rights and Representation

23 Apr 2024

In a pivotal seminar held in Milan on April 10th 2024, more than 70 women from 15 countries assembled to confront the challenges faced by women in the transport sector amidst the backdrop of the growing far-right movement in Europe. The seminar welcomed not just union leaders but workers and workplace representatives from all over Europe, notably with a significant presence of Italian workplace delegates. In light of the upcoming European elections, the discourse focused on the indispensable role of women in leading the fight for equality and justice in the transport sector.

The overarching concern voiced was the paradox of far-right parties being carried into power by workers and women while often going against these voters’ rights and interests once in office. Other important problems that are specific to women transport workers were discussed, namely job segregation, pay gap, violence, and the continuous lack of attention to specific Health and Safety risks.

The seminar began with a speech by Lena Dačić, a leader from the Air Serbia cabin crew union. After being elected president of her union, Dačić faced illegal termination from her position. Undeterred, she now courageously fights her battle for justice in court. Her powerful testimonial is the prime example of authoritarian practices spreading across Europe nowadays.

Throughout the day, many women offered powerful testimonials about the specific issues that they face in the transport industry and that have grown with the severe impact of far-right policies on the transport sector. With the European elections coming closer, the importance of the women transport workers’ vote was stressed, as women and workers need to secure their support and influence in the parliament.

As the seminar drew close, Livia Spera, ETF general secretary, delivered a compelling call to action. Drawing inspiration from justice: “We won’t allow the story to end like this”. Spera also said that one of the causes of labour shortages in the sector is the lack of attractive jobs specifically for women. Reflecting on the gravity of the day’s discussions, marked by the sharing of profoundly personal experiences, she emphasized the vital importance of collective action for the European elections and beyond.

It is evident that the battle for women’s representation and respect in the transport sector is not merely a political struggle. It is a collective imperative rooted in the shared experiences and aspirations of women across Europe. From the ETF, we are committed to organising women transport workers to defend their rights against the far-right attacks on workers, minorities and women.

Below, you can find a photo collection of some of the inspiring speakers: