Transport workers fighting for women transport workers!

8 Mar 2013

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, the European Transport Workers’ Federation warmly greets all women and in particular those who work in the transport and fisheries sectors. In the past year, women trade union leaders and activists worked together on the first ETF training package on gender issues, to be launched in May this year, at the upcoming ETF Congress, and dedicated to rank and file women and men working in the sectors we represent. Indeed, the value of the ETF TRANSUNION project resided not only in developing this training package, but also in promoting the gender dimension in European social dialogue committees.
Also in 2012, rail and urban public transport members of the ETF took up to the gender equality agenda. They evaluated together with the sector employers’ organisations the presence of women in rail and urban public transport companies, identified challenges and proposed solutions for their better integration in the two sectors.
Recently, the ETF Women’s Committee embarked in the final preparation of the ETF Women’s Conference and the ETF Congress. A new ETF gender action plan is in the making, based on the contribution and ideas of women rank and file union members. The past years of company visits, direct meetings with women transport workers at their workplace, and with women’s structures paid off: the action plan proposes health and safety and elimination of workplace violence as key priorities.
The ETF Women’s Committee will tackle the effects of recession on women transport workers.
They are determined to send a strong signal to policy makers that recession deepened gender workplace inequalities in transport. It has affected those transport workers in precarious employment in the first place (temporary contracts, agency workers, part-timers), with women representing a large percentage of these job categories. It put on halt investment projects, including those aiming for the modernisation of working conditions and work environment, so much needed in order to attract more women in transport. It made it more difficult to introduce a gender dimension in collective bargaining negotiations, and particularly advancing with the work-life balance agenda which is key in better organising the work and family life of women mobile workers. It led to wage cuts, with a particular impact on women in precarious jobs. The fall in quality of life and work is particularly critical for young women, the most affected by unemployment, insecure employment situations, limited access to social benefits, poor access to health care or labour rights. The ETF is also aware that more positive steps are needed with regard to women participation in trade unions, at all levels. The 2013 Congress will have to deliver the clear message to the membership that better women participation in trade union life will mean stronger unions.
2013 is a key year for the European Transport Workers’ Federation as over 240 transport trade unions are preparing to join our Women’s Conference and ETF Congress in May. Hundreds of unionists will renew their commitment to actively promoting equality between women and men.
The women’s work, the Women’s Committee work will stay central to this value. For the ETF, the way From global crisis to global justice goes via gender equality too!

Message by the ETF General Secretary, Eduardo Chagas, to the ETF affiliated members for the International Women’s Day.