Business and transport failing late-night workers

Unite calls for action on safe travel home with Get Me Home Safely campaign

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Nearly six in ten workers (58 per cent) report that their employers have never provided them with safe transport home after work, a new poll for Unite the union reveals today (March 28).

The poll also finds that people feel it has become less safe when travelling home at night and that public transport is not a decent option because there are too few staff (51 per cent); the wait for a bus or train is too long (48 per cent)
streets and stations are badly lit (44 per cent) and the services are unreliable (45 per cent).

Unite releases the figures as it steps up its Get Me Home Safely (GMHS) campaign, which is working to improve protection for workers as they journey home from late night work.

The union is currently pursuing a case against an employer who promised but failed to provide a young woman worker with a taxi home after her bar shift. Left to travel home alone, late at night, she was then sexually assaulted. A victory will mean that health and safety law is changed to require employers to provide safe homewards transport for late hours workers.

Sixty-nine per cent of all those polled believe that hospitality employers should be compelled by the conditions of their licence to provide safe transport home after late hours work. Such a policy was recently introduced by East Dunbartonshire council and, following work by young Unite activists, is set to be followed by Edinburgh city council.

The campaign is also demanding that late night public transport services are improved, so that all workers heading home can feel that this is a safe – and affordable – option.

Launching the campaign, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Quite clearly workers – mainly women workers – are being failed. Their safety is being put at risk by a profit-above-all-else culture that governs UK business.

“Employers must accept that their duty of care to late night workers doesn’t stop when the shift ends,” she added. “The same goes for transport operators and councils – step up with improved, affordable services so that workers are not out of pocket just trying to get home safely from work.

“Unite is not prepared to tolerate our members’ safety being put at risk a minute longer. Our members fighting for change will have their union’s support every step of the way.”

Caitlin Lee, a former hospitality worker who was assaulted on her way home from a shift, said, “What happened to me would not have happened had my employer done as they had promised and provided me with safe transport home. I absolutely do not want this to happen to any other worker.

“The only way to stop it happening to other workers, and especially women workers, is to require employers to provide safe transport home,” Caitlin added. “In hospitality, where I worked, no transport should mean no licence. As East Dunbartonshire council has shown, this can be done.”

Unite members have made a short film to support the Get Me Home Safely campaign, which can be seen below:

The poll, conducted by Survation in mid February, also found that 73 per cent acknowledge that women do not feel safe travelling home at night in the UK; 38 per cent acknowledge that men do not feel safe travelling home at night in the UK; and 57 per cent feel that travelling home at night is less safe than it used to be

The GMHS campaign has so far been backed by the Welsh government.

By Ryan Fletcher

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