IWD 2021: Employers and governments must do more to protect women at work!

8 Mar 2021

On International Women’s Day, the European Transport Workers’ Federation joins the international trade union movement to call on governments to ratify the ILO Violence and Harassment Convention no. 190, which will come into force in June this year.  

Violence against women in the EU is a problem of epidemic proportions. Addressing the issue through this new international standard is key to achieving decent and fair work for all and women’s rights and equality in the workplace.

In the transport sector, violence and harassment are still often seen as part of the job. And that is unacceptable. As unions, we’re working to build a safe workplace for all women transport workers, and we urge employers to fulfil their duty and provide a safe work environment, but governments need to step up and do their job too. It’s time for all governments to Ratify ILO Convention 190. No excuses. The time for action is now. You owe it to women everywhere“, Livia Spera, ETF General Secretary.

In light of the COVID-19 Pandemic, ending violence and harassment has become all the more urgent in the transport sector. The alarming increase in violence and harassment against women transport workers from customers, passengers, and the public, and a significant increase in domestic violence during lockdowns across Europe, require urgent and coordinated action from governments and employers.

“ETF’s recent survey on gender equality carried out in 2019 found that masculinist culture and workplace violence make up one of the significant barriers faced by women transport workers and that workplaces do not prioritise a safe and adequate environment for women! This is unacceptable! We need to shape a better future for women transport workers!” ETF Women’s Committee Chair, Sara Tripodi.

Women responding to ETF surveys speak of a pervasive culture of sexual harassment and sexual intimidation in the workplace by colleagues, managers, and third parties. This materialises in repeated, hostile, and offensive verbal, non-verbal, and physical forms of violence, including sexual harassment. These acts of violence are part of a culture where the perpetrators believe they have an entitlement to harass women, and if women “can’t cope, they should get out”. This culture has resulted in the isolation and silencing of women at work.

The ILO Convention no 190, accompanied by Recommendation no 2006, is historic and, for the first time, gives workers the right to a world of work that is free from violence and harassment. Ending gender-based violence and harassment is at the centre of the Convention and Recommendation. It acknowledges that women are disproportionately affected by violence and harassment in the world of work. Governments and employers who are members of the ILO agreed to the Convention and committed to improving laws, services, and procedures for preventing and tackling violence and harassment.