IWD: Bosses’ ‘blind spot’ over harassment of women commuters

Employers are ignoring their responsibility for the safety of women workers during their commute to and from work, trade unions have warned on International Women’s Day.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and its affiliates today held a “Safe all the Way” protest outside Brussels Central Station to raise the alarm over this “blind spot” which leaves women at a higher risk of violence and harassment on their way to and from work.

One in three women avoid public transport because of violence and harassment, according to Belgian research, while a French study found as many as 87% of women have been victims of harassment on the transport system.

The problem is also one of the main barriers to women working in the transport sector, with 63% of women transport workers saying they had experienced violence at work, a survey by the European Transport Workers’ Federation found.


Despite the scale of the problem, many employers are not fulfilling their responsibility for the safety of women workers during their commute.

Under International Labour Convention 190, countries are required to put in place laws requiring employers to prevent violence and harassment at work – including “when commuting to and from work.”

Although currently only four EU countries have so far ratified the convention: Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain. The ratification process is also underway in Belgium.

The EU Council has delayed ratification of the Convention by other member states by creating unnecessary legal uncertainly over ratification.

On International Women’s Day 2023, the ETUC demands that: 

- All EU member states ratify International Labour Convention 190
- Employers negotiate with trade unions to make sure travel to and from work is free from violence and harassment
- European institutions include practical solutions to violence and harassment in the workplace in a new directive

ETUC General Secretary Esther Lynch said:

“Employers have two blind spots: one is gender within health and safety and the second is the commute to work.

“So, the reason we’re here today is to make very clear that employers have a responsibility to make sure we can travel to work and home from work without being stared at, touched, assaulted, intimated or travelling in fear."

“EU leaders should play their part in keeping women safe by finally giving the green light for all member states to ratify ILO Convention 190 on the prevention of harassment and violence at work, including during commuting time.”


Free to use photos of the ETUC’s ‘Safe all the Way’ protest can be found here.