November 25 has been declared by the United Nations the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. On this day, governments, social partners and civil society around the world expressed clearly their will to fight this disgraceful but actually existing phenomenon. According to the European Fundamental Rights Agency, even in the European Union every third woman has experienced some form of gender based violence after the age of 15. A part of this violence happens in the workplace – both by colleagues and by third party. In the transport sector, aggression by passengers or other players in the road becomes a serious problem.
On this day FTTUB started a massive campaign against aggression in the workplace. The campaign continued efforts put last year to ask for a special convention of the International Labour Organisation under the initiative of the International Trade Union Confederation and the International Transport Workers’ Federation, whose member is FTTUB. Also, last years the Federation has concluded agreements on joint actions against violence with several big municipalities – Sofia, Varna, Bourgas. This cooperation gave floor for many joint initiatives, some of which have been considered as best practice worldwide. This year the municipality of Gabrovo is joining the club. The agreement has been signed at the FTTUB head office in Sofia.”Since 2009, when the UN Commission on the Status of Women recommended interaction with local authorities, FTTUB first put it in practice in Sofia. We see the benefits and we are particularly excited to extend this success story by the new agreement with the municipality of Gabrovo. Its mayor is an energetic young woman, sharing our concerns on the issue.” says Ekaterina Yordanova, President of FTTUB.
This year’s campaign is a new follow up of this kind of cooperation. It includes a number of activities. The campaign began with an extended meeting of the Council for Social Cooperation to Sofia Municipality dedicated to November 25 and combating violence against women in the workplace. It was chaired by the Deputy Mayor on Transport – L. Hristov and was attended by the Mayor of Sofia Municipality Yordanka Fandakova who wished success to the campaign.
The FTTUB expert Mila Nikolova made a short presentation on the global campaign for an ILO convention on violence against women and stressed the direct link between international standards and local actions. The chair of the meeting raised the issue of violence against women in the workplace in the context of the increasing aggression and stress in the transport sector. He also stressed its importance as both a social and economic problem. On his initiative and with the promise of full support on behalf the municipality, the social partners discussed the possibilities for public transport companies to conduct a study on violence. They will start a survey and an in-depth analysis to identify key factors that foster violence and identify the affected employee groups. This will be the first step to taking real practical measures for which insisted Ekaterina Yordanova. On the meeting, social partners also discussed the possibility for future training of workers in public transport aiming to make them better prepared for the new challenges in terms of safety and protection.
The campaign launched today also aims to attract attention and support from the general public. Stickers on the subject were placed on vehicles in the public transport in Sofia. They will also be distributed in the other mentioned municipalities, as well as in all other cities that wish to join the campaign. These stickers will also be placed in the passenger trains of the State Railways of Bulgaria. The messages are: “Stop violence against women at the workplace” and “Support an ILO Convention” as part of the global campaign of the international trade union organizations. The expected result is a more secure transport for everyone.
Along with this campaign continues the support for Nermin al-Sharif. A specially made poster was presented by FTTUB to the social partners and will be hung at visible places in the transport enterprises, calling for support to the online petition.