Hospitality workers to lobby councillors for free late night transport

Unite the union’s ‘Get Me Home Safely’ motion is being put before Glasgow City Council on December 8.

Unite hospitality workers to lobby Glasgow councillors for safe transport home late at night iStock

Hospitality workers in Glasgow are calling upon councillors to back a motion urging employers to provide safe transport home for staff past 11pm.

Unite the union’s ‘Get Me Home Safely’ motion is being put before Glasgow City Council on December 8.

The union said that despite the sector pulling in hundreds of millions of pounds in revenue for Glasgow’s hospitality employers this year alone, many late night workers, including nurses, cleaners and shop workers, are left to choose between walking miles home in the dark or paying out two hours of wages for a taxi home.

The campaign was launched in 2021 by Unite Hospitality Glasgow after the branch’s chair, Caitlin Lee, was sexually assaulted walking home from work after her employer – a five-star hotel chain – refused to provide her a taxi home after a 12am finish.

As well as supporting workers in their bid to gain safe and free transport home from their employers, the campaign seeks to encourage local authorities to make safe and free transport home for late night workers a requirement for new and extended alcohol licenses. 

The campaign has already been backed by councils in Edinburgh, East Dunbartonshire, North Ayrshire, Falkirk and Dundee where workers are already starting to see the benefits of safe and free transport home past the last bus, train or tram.

Ms Lee said: “I don’t want what happened to me to happen to any other worker, which is why we launched Get Me Home Safely. For this campaign to succeed we need buy-in from employers, workers and politicians.

“As the biggest local authority in the country, passing Get Me Home Safe in Glasgow would send the strongest message yet to late night workers and employers alike that transport home after a late night shift is fundamentally important to their overall safety and working conditions.

“The responsibility for workers’ safety to and from late night work should not fall on to the worker – it must be with the employers and politicians at all levels to ensure we are safe.

“This motion is incredibly important in shifting the responsibility to Glasgow employers and Unite Hospitality will always fight for workers safety in their workplace and on their way home”

The campaign has received cross-party support from councillors in the city who have pledged to back the motion before them on Thursday December 8 and it is already party policy for Scottish Labour and the Scottish Greens.

Anthony Carroll, Green councillor for Dennistoun Ward said “Our night time workforce often have to rely on precarious provision of public transport or private hire to get home safely: this must simply stop being overlooked by employers. Unite Hospitality’s call is one that I hope all councillors can support to ensure that we enforce more companies operating unsocial hours to live up to their duty of care they have to their employees.

“This issue needs urgent action and I’m glad the Green Party conference formally supported free transport home for night staff as a mandatory requirement, and will look forward to working collaboratively, not just with fellow councillors and trade unions to achieve this in Glasgow, but with Maggie Chapman MSP who will be working on a members’ bill in the Scottish Parliament to see this policy rolled out across the rest of the country.

“The move would also see the party work towards a number of safety improvement measures, including legislative measures to implement clear and operational CCTV on all forms of public transport, as well as introducing a legal requirement to train transport workers on preventing gender-based violence, sexual assault and harassment on public transport and in private hire vehicles.”

Eunis Jassemi, Labour councillor for Victoria Park Ward said: “As a former hospitality worker, I’ve seen first-hand the abuse workers have to go through, during and after their shift. From misogynistic language to women to racism directed at workers just because of the colour of their skin.

“Glasgow has some of the best bars and restaurants in the country and that’s down to the high quality service the hospitality sector provides. They go above and beyond to serve our city well to Glaswegians as well as international visitors, it’s time we stood up for them and give them the respect they deserve.

“I’m proud to have worked closely with Unite the union following the council elections to get us to this position and I’m delighted to have the full support of the Glasgow Labour Group.

“On Thursday, Glasgow will have the chance to be bold. We can’t have the same old approach and tinker around the edges. Our politics need to be bold, our city needs to be ambitious.

“This motion won’t end discrimination and provide safety overnight but it will be the start. The amendments I will be moving will ensure we get action, not just words from Glasgow City Council.

“I look forward to playing my part along with my Labour colleagues in standing up for Glasgow’s hospitality workers.”

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