29 November 2023
RMT Press Office:
RMT has found that 1 in 3 of its women members working for ScotRail have been sexually harassed in the course of their job.
Over 80% of respondents revealed they had not reported the incident, with most saying they felt they would not be taken seriously.
The shocking survey also revealed railway workers in Scotland face violence and many have witnessed women passengers being assaulted.
Our survey in November 2023 revealed that:
• 1 in 3 women ScotRail workers said they had been sexually harassed at work in the last year. Of those, more than 80% did not report the incident/s.
• The most common reason cited for not reporting was concerns that the report would not be taken seriously.
• More than half said they had witnessed sexual harassment being perpetrated against women and girl passengers in the last year.
• Three-quarters said that they think that sexual harassment on Scotland’s railway is becoming more of a problem.
Workplace violence encompasses a wide range of behaviour including verbal abuse, racial abuse, physical assaults, threats, being spat at.
RMT's survey found:
• Over 70% of women members at ScotRail said they had experienced workplace violence in the last year. Of those, more than 8 in 10 were lone working at the time.
•98% said that more action needs to be taken against the perpetrators of violent and abusive behaviour towards rail workers.
•Less than a quarter of women ScotRail members said they feel safe at work.
Several members spoke out about their experiences, detailing harrowing experiences of harassment, violence and a feeling of lawlessness on the railway.
Members comments include:
“A male passenger shouted she’s getting it whether she likes it or not when I entered the coach he was sitting in.”
“There is absolutely no deterrent for any sort of anti-social behaviour on the railways as far as I can see. I personally have appeared in court on numerous occasions and have never seen anybody convicted yet.”
“Violence in all forms is an everyday and every journey occurrence.”
“People notice when there is no staff and use that to their advantage not to be caught.”
“Lone women and girls travelling late at night have stated they don't feel safe when there isn't other staff on board DOO services.”
“Ticket offices are a safe haven in often isolated stations. Having ticket office staff to talk to or report behaviour too is much safer than having to speak to a help point and have nobody to protect you.”
“It needs to be managed better…Ticket examiners have men asking them on a weekly basis for sex in the bathrooms, it’s not reported because it doesn't get taken seriously."
Following the publishing of the survey results, RMT is calling on the Scotrail to take steps to combat rampant anti-social behaviour on the railways, including ensuring safe staffing levels.
This means keeping ticket offices open and a fully staffed railway network in Scotland.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "Our women members in Scotland must be commended for coming forward and speaking out about some truly harrowing experiences of sexual harassment and violence on Scotalnd's railways.
"Misogyny on our railways and in wider society must be confronted head on and a zero tolerance must be adopted to those who assault, intimidate and harass our members regardless of their background.
"We hope the Scottish government will take seriously the figures and the testimony our women members have given. particularly around safe staffing and the valuable contribution ticket offices make to the railway network."
1 in 10 of our Scotrail members took part in the survey.
Scottish Government’s own research has found, the presence of staff at stations, in ticket offices and on trains makes women and girls feel safer when travelling.
Other key RMT survey results:
•98% of women ScotRail members said that a further extension of Driver Only Operation (DOO) would worsen the safety of women and girls on the railway.
•Similarly, 95% said that cuts to ScotRail ticket office hours would worsen women and girls’ safety.
•95% said that increasing staffing on trains and at stations would improve the safety of women and girls on public transport.