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ITF Study: Impact of COVID-19 on Women Transport Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused mass social and economic disruption across the world. All workers have been affected by the pandemic. But the negative impacts of the crisis are falling disproportionately on women workers. Women workers have suffered a disproportionate loss of livelihoods, whilst also having to bear additional burdens of unpaid caring and domestic responsibilities. The impacts of the pandemic have also increased exposure to violence and harassment for women workers and studies have shown that reports of domestic violence have skyrocketed during the pandemic.

As part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, the International Transportworkers Federation (ITF) has launched a report which exposes how women transport workers were hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic – both at work and at home.

GLI Manchester was commissioned by the ITF to produce this research study to explore the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on women transport workers, including in increasing exposure to violence and harassment, and to assess the long-term impact of the crisis on women

The research set out to gather evidence to build the case about the link between the pandemic and violence and harassment against women transport workers, to provide arguments for unions to secure a gender-responsive pandemic recovery, and to enable unions to use C190 as a tool to build movements to address violence and harassment. It identified three main impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Impacts on employment and working conditions
  • Impacts on violence and harassment
  • Impacts on action in the trade union movement

The research also identified several recommendations for how trade unions can work with governments and employers to address the impacts of the pandemic on women transport workers, and to integrate this into the COVID-19 response and recovery. 

The study draws together research from seven ITF C190 project countries across West and Central Africa. Study participants included women workers, union members and leaders in both the informal and formal transport economy across four different transport sectors: aviation, road (passenger and freight), maritime and rail (passenger and freight).

Click here to read the research report in English.

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ILO C190: ITF Transport Workers Toolkit

Violence and harassment is endemic in the transport industry, affecting women workers disproportionately.

In 2019, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) adopted ILO Violence and Harassment Convention (No.190) and Recommendation (No.206). These international tools were introduced to tackle violence and harassment in the world of work.

As we celebrate the second anniversary of ILO Convention 190 coming into force, the International Transportworkers Federation (ITF) has launched a transport focused C190 toolkit.

GLI Manchester was commissioned by the ITF to produce this transport toolkit on C190. The toolkit is a supplement to the joint GUFs toolkit, that was also produced by GLI Manchester.

Since transport is identified in C190 as one of the sectors most exposed to violence and harassment, this new toolkit highlights the issues and C190 language that are key for transport workers. The toolkit helps to recognise different forms of violence and harassment; it addresses the myths, stigma and shame around these issues; and includes tools to encourage and support union action to build and strengthen C190 campaigns.  

The toolkit includes a set of briefings on issues that affect transport workers most significantly and a separate briefing on identifying targets and allies to strengthen the campaign. Each briefing looks at understanding the issue and its importance for transport workers; what C190 can do to help; and includes activity to encourage to union action.

The toolkit aims to:

  • Demonstrate how violence and harassment in the world of work, including gender-based violence and harassment, impacts all transport workers, in particular women workers and other vulnerable groups.  
  • Raise awareness of C190 and R206 and their relevance for all transport workers and highlight the importance of ratification and implementation.  
  • Outline how C190 and R206 can be used as a tool for advocacy and encourage unions to plan and organise campaigns on violence and harassment.  
  • Encourage unions to use the language of C190 most relevant for transport workers to promote ratification and implementation, and to negotiate with employers and other key stakeholders.  
  • Emphasise the role of women transport workers in making C190 effective. 

Click here to read the toolkit in English.

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ITF People’s Public Transport Policy

Public transport plays an important role in the lives of women. But it remains male-dominated, both in its design and in its employment. Public transport can only be gender-responsive if there are women employed in the industry and if women are involved in decision-making and policy about public transport.

GLI was commissioned by the International Transportworkers Federation (ITF) to produce a chapter on ‘Women in Public Transport’ to outline it’s vision for women in public transport, and to inform policy proposals on gender equality for the ITFs People’s Public Transport Policy as part of the Our Public Transport programme.

The ITF’s Our Public Transport programme promotes a social model of public transport. A social model includes organisational and employment rights for workers and requires that any expansion of public transport guarantees decent jobs. The People’s Public Transport Policy provides the ITF vision for a social model of public transport. The 28 policy demands relate to six key areas of public transport: public ownership, public financing, employment and decent work, women in public transport, worker control of technology and climate change.

The chapters are based on three sources: existing ITF policies and statements; recent developments and experiences in the urban transport sector; and external contributions from organisations and activists. Each chapter includes case studies, as well as supporting campaign materials and education resources.

The ITF women transport workers’ committee has decided to make this campaign a core pillar of the ITF women’s programme. Gender-related issues and women’s participation and leadership are integrated in every aspect of the OPT programme.

Our Public Transport Programme:

  • works in target cities to strengthen the voices of workers in the development of new urban transport modes, including bus rapid transit (BRT), and in negotiating the transition from informal to formal work
  • campaigns to improve working conditions for all public transport workers – informal transport workers in particular – through increasing their industrial power. This includes building union networks in public transport multinational corporations, developing alliances with passengers, communities and other organisations and promotingwomen’s employment in public transport
  • works to develop an alternative public transport policy – one that is built on public ownership, public financing, decent jobs and union rights for workersThe ITF women transport workers’ committee has decided to make this campaign a core pillar of the ITF women’s programme. Gender-related issues and women’s participation and leadership are integrated in every aspect of the OPT programme.

Click here to read and download the chapter.

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Informal Passenger Transport Beyond COVID-19: A Trade Union Guide to Worker-Led Formalisation


Covid-19 has already had a profound economic and health impact on the lives of millions of informal transport workers, and the crisis shows little sign of abating. As with all crises, it is the most vulnerable in the workforce who have been hit the hardest.

GLI Manchester was commissioned by the International Transportworkers’ Federation (ITF) as a contribution to the ITF’s Our Public Transport (OPT) programme to produce a guide to worker-led formalisation in informal passenger transport.

This guide aims to support unions in both responding to the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic and embarking on new campaigns to positively shape urban transport in the interests of workers, passengers and communities beyond the crisis.

Click here to read the guide.