Get Home Safe: Safe Home Campaign
The Scottish Trades Union Congress is the national trade union centre in Scotland. With 40 affiliated unions as of 2020, the STUC represents over 540,000 trade unionists. In 2015, a group of young activists launched the STUC’s Better than Zero campaign with a purpose to end the use of zero hours contracts and take on exploitative employers.
Safe Home was a worker led initiative launched in 2018 by the Better than Zero campaign and further supported by Unite the Union and the Bakers Union.
This initiative was launched following a women in leadership course where workers from hospitality, fast food and the retail sector shared their own frightening experiences of getting home after a late shift. Experiences such as sexual assault, verbal harassment, violence and stalking were all too common and this had a knock on impact in other areas of the workers life, often resulting in stress and anxiety.
Along with this a survey found that over 71,000 people in Scotland were on zero hours contracts within low paid sectors. This added to the irregularity of shift patterns and low pay meant many workers were unable to afford safe transport home.
Safe Home’s aim was to organise workers and challenge employers to take ownership of the safety and wellbeing of workers by extending their duty of care, therefore ensuring late night workers got home safely.
We also wanted to make employers and the public aware of the real life experiences of those in precarious work, having to make the choice between buying food or paying 2-3 hours pay for a taxi home.
Finally we wanted to change regulations so employers would need to put provisions in place for workers’ working past 11pm. This would include lobbying local government and the licensing board.
As employment law sits at Westminster we focused on targeting the Glasgow City Council Licencing board. A variety of tactics were used to put pressure on the licencing committee and late night venues, these include publicly sharing stories of the workers bad experiences during late night travel, promoting the campaign in local newspapers and on local radio stations, holding stalls at every licence board consultation across the city where activists gave out leaflets and gathered public support through a petition and lobbying local and national MP’s. Finally, we held demonstrations outside the City Chambers. After months of demonstrations the campaigners were successful in securing changes to the licencing applications. Employers now need to demonstrate good practice and evidence how the plan to ensure workers’ safe travel home at the end of a late shift.
Throughout this campaign workers hubs were created. Hubs were monthly meetings where workers could come along and share their own experiences getting home after a late shift.
From this, groups of workers participated in collective actions that l led to late night venues such as SWG3, Strathclyde and Aberdeen Student Union signing up to the campaign and now provide paid taxis home for late night workers.
You can see press around these issues below:
- Employers must ensure pub staff get home safe from late shifts as campaign sparks possible change in law (Daily Record)
- Glasgow’s SWG3 to provide safe transport home for staff working late following campaign (Glasgow Times)
- The Stand comedy club bosses commit to helping workers get home safe (Glasgow Times)
- Glasgow Taxis launch student scheme to help those with no cash get home safely (Glasgow Live)
Get involved in similar initiatives at Better than Zero, a grassroots campaign which supports workplace organising and uses collective and direct action to improve working conditions. This year the campaign has developed tactics, tools, and teaching programmes to ensure that precarious workers across Scotland have the strength and the skills to take back control at work.