Today, the 25th of November, the European Transport Workers’ Federation joins the union movement and its affiliated members in drawing world-wide attention on workplace violence against women.
The ETF Women’s Conference put the fight against workplace violence high on the ETF agenda. In May 2013, the Conference adopted its 3rd gender action plan, fully reflecting their concern while more and more women transport workers face aggressive behaviour both as workers, and as transport users. Transport is an industry with high incidence of violence. Many women transport workers work in desk-front jobs, being in direct contact with clients and customers, and are often exposed to aggressive behaviour, be it verbal or physical. Companies do too little to tackle third party violence. On contrary, they practice a tacit policy of “client is always right”. Women workers are instructed by their employer to rather diffuse violence than report it back, and complaints are hardly taken into account or dealt with. Transport is also a highly segregated industry, but women do get gradually recruited in male-dominated jobs. Many however leave the industry soon after they get employed. Workplace violence and harassment stand as one of the main reasons for the poor retention of women in transport professions.
The ETF affiliated members have asked for guidance and training on how to handle aggressive behavior against women in the workplace, and particularly on how to push companies comply with their responsibilities. The ETF will thus join forces with the International Transport Workers’ Federation and will work on a template policy on zero workplace violence, that unions can then take to company managements as a starting point for the adoption of workplace rules. Dealing with workplace violence will be part of an extended ETF gender training package.
Eduardo Chagas, General Secretary of the ETF, said: “The ETF message is clear: in transport, violence does not – and must no – come with the job. And with this, we are determined to raise the issue at a large scale, empowering our union members to push companies meet their responsibilities. We take our fight against violence seriously, and this will be reflected by our soon to come projects and activities.”