Glasgow City Councillors unanimously back new “Get Me Home Safely Campaign” calling for employers to provide hospitality workers with transport if their shift ends after 11pm.
Glasgow City Council (GCC) has become the largest authority to support the Get Me Home Safely campaign (GMHS) in a move Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, hailed as an “important milestone”, calling on other “local authorities to follow suit”.
However, the GCC motion does not explicitly require employers to pay for late-night transport home, but will instead introduce training for public transport workers on preventing gender-based violence, sexual assault, and harassment, and instruct relevant officers to design an implementation plan to meet the aims of this campaign.
Get Me Home Safely was launched by Unite in 2021 following the sexual assault of union member Caitlin Lee walking home from a late-night shift, at midnight, after her five-star hotel employer refused to provide a taxi. Union organiser Lee commented on how “workers are being placed in a horrible situation because there are just too few safe and affordable options for getting home at night”, she added, “I don’t want what happened to me to happen to any other worker, which is why there must be change”.
The campaign aimed to highlight the dangers many hospitality workers face getting home from work late. City councillor, Anthony Carroll, stated the campaign and motion “hopes to bring a duty of care for nighttime workers to the forefront of the night time economy”. In response to the council’s support for GMHS, Caitlin Lee felt it sent “the strongest message yet to late-night workers and employers alike”. She stated that this motion stressed how “the responsibility for workers safety should not fall on the worker- it must be with the employers and politicians”.
Some Glasgow hospitality venues already have ‘Get Home Safe’ style schemes. Since 2018, the SWG3 have offered staff an allowance of up to £10 for shifts finishing after 11pm. Yet, many other workers have experienced harassment while walking home. For those working in hospitality, Unite organiser Bryan Simpson, stated “this is a huge step forward”, as many have had to “choose between walking home and spending two hours wages on a taxi home for far too long now”.
The Glasgow Guardian spoke to several University of Glasgow students who had experience working in hospitality to gain their perspective on the newly council-supported campaign. Sorrel Humphrey, who has regularly worked in hospitality venues across the city, felt that when venues provide transport “It’s honestly such a relief because if I pay for my own Uber, it eats into my wages so much”. She continued: “if a venue needs you to work late, they should ensure that you get home safely afterwards, it’s just a basic human right!”.
Another student, Lizzie Campbell explained how getting home after work played a considerable role in which venues she felt she could work at. She stated “in my experience, I feel much safer working in the West End as I know that even if I finish late, it’s only a short walk back to my flat. I don’t have to rely on often inconsistent public transport or pay for my own taxi”. In response to the possibility that this new campaign will see more hospitality employers provide free transport options home, Lizzie said “I feel like it’s really a step in the right direction, especially for women, an employers duty of care should not end when the shift is finished, consideration needs to be made for the journey home!”
Whilst there is still a long way to go before workers see free transport provision, student Eloise Sumner said “although the council supporting this campaign doesn’t equal free transport immediately, the training for transport staff on preventing GBV and assault will hopefully make Glasgow a safer place to work for everyone”.Not only does Unite’s campaign seek free and safe transport, they want it to become a requirement for businesses seeking new or extended alcohol licences in Glasgow. Unite’s Sharon Graham further stated: “Unite will not stop until the impossible choice of staying safe or saving wages is made a thing of the past”.