The transport sector in Europe is changing rapidly. Globalisation, digitalisation and automation, demographic changes and climate change massively impact on all transport workers. However, there is only awareness of the specific ways that these trends will affect women transport workers and their jobs.
The central theme of the ETF work programme on gender equality for 2017-2022 is Fair transport in Europe, fair jobs for women. To address the changes in the transport sector, the ETF Women’s Committee has activities and is involved in projects and campaigns.
Our key priority is to fight workplace violence and harassment against women in transport. Transport is said to be one of the sectors with the worst record on this issue. New risks of violence are also emerging because of changes in work organisation, staffing shortages and the tensions caused by job insecurity. An ETF survey report gives alarming evidence of high levels of violence and harassment against women at work in transport across Europe.
Within the ETF’s Fair Transport Europe Campaign, the ETF Women’s Committee will intensify its campaign against gender-based violence and harassment at work and advocate for safe and violence-free workplaces in the sector.
From the very beginning of the European Commission initiative Women in Transport in 2015, the ETF Women’s Committee has been the voice of women transport workers in the project. We raise awareness of key workplace issues such as gender-based violence at work, equal pay, training and the need for fair working conditions. A social pillar is essential in this initiative to make transport more attractive for women and young workers.
The Women’s Committee ensures that women transport workers are not only considered useful to fill roles where there is an employment gap. Their entry into the sector must not only be through precarious and low paid jobs created by the constant deterioration of working conditions in transport, which has reached the point that these jobs have become of no interest to male workers.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) “[t]ransport is one of several sectors that have traditionally been regarded as ‘no place for women’. In many respects and in many countries, this is still the case today.” That’s why women in transport typically perform different jobs than men (such as non-mobile roles) and they represent the majority of workforce in part-time, temporary and low(er) paid types of employment. This is often reflected by income or pay inequalities: women do not receive equal pay for work of equal value.
The ETF Women’s Committee works to raise awareness of the issue in the frame of the European Commission initiative Women in Transport and engages in discussions on this topic with other stakeholders, such as the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).
Training and education are key to building capacity among the ETF and its affiliates in order to create strong unions. It also allows unions to effectively participate in shaping the future of the transport sector.
The ETF Women’s Committee has developed a gender training package for rank and file trade union members. It includes training modules on women’s empowerment, on women in collective bargaining and on violence and harassment against women transport workers.
While more women are joining trade unions, they are often under-represented in decision-making structures. That is why the training of women union leaders is as important as the training of women transport workers. In order to address their training and education needs, the ETF Women’s Committee will take up the topic and engage in leadership training for women.
Digitalisation and automation are not only changing the scope of work but also the concept in itself. They are affecting transport jobs in all sectors. Various studies and reports consider that women would be more affected by the coming changes than men and the existing gender inequalities might worsen.
However, there is a general lack of knowledge in terms of how the fourth industrial revolution will impact on women employment and skills in Europe’s transport sector. We actively engage in research on how digitalisation and automation will impact on women transport workers in Europe. Then we promote and defend women transport workers’ skills and employment.
The ETF Women’s Committee develops and implements these priorities in close cooperation with national affiliates, the ETF sections and the ITF.