Unite is calling on councils and employers to mark today’s (April 28) International Workers’ Memorial Day by backing the union’s Get Me Home Safely campaign.
Unite wants the hundreds of councils and authorities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow East Dunbartonshire council’s lead in finding innovative ways to support the late night workforce. East Dunbartonshire has made it a requirement of licensing that all hospitality businesses in the area provide safe transport home for their workers.
The union is also calling for health and safety legislation to be changed to ensure that employers must conduct assessments of the provision for workers to get home safely from late working.
The Get Me Home Safely campaign has been inspired by the experience of one young woman member of the union who, having been promised and then denied a taxi home after a shift, was attacked on her journey home. Unite is now pursuing her former employer for negligence.
The campaign, which has been endorsed by the Welsh Assembly, is working to make safe transport home the norm for late workers.
On International Workers’ Memorial Day, Unite has released a short film of one young bar worker’s journey home at night through unlit streets with no public transport to highlight how all too often workplace safety ends when the shift does:
Launching the film, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Workers – young women, mainly – are being put at tremendous risk when trying to get home at night. This is frankly disgusting.
“No worker should be being placed in a dangerous situation because profits come first and public transport has been cut to the bone.
“The duty of care must include ensuring the right to work and to travel to and from work free from fear. Employers and councils need to own this, they cannot say “this is nothing to do with me”.”
Hospitality worker Caitlin, who was attacked when travelling home from work when her promised taxi was not provided, added, “If my employer had kept their promise of a taxi home, I would not have been attacked. I do not want what happened to me to happen to any other worker which is why no transport home should mean no licence to trade.”
A recent poll for Unite found that almost six in ten workers – 58 per cent – had never been provided with same transport home by their employers. 59 per cent of those polled said that hospitality employers should be compelled by the conditions of their licence to provide safe homewards transport after a shift.
By Shaun Noble