We are making a safe journey home into a basic workplace demand. Across the late-night economy, it takes workers two hours to earn the cost of a taxi home, when they are making £100s an hour for big-profit bars, hotels, and venues.
Every night, workers are forced to trade two- or three-hours’ worth of their time for a safe journey home. Better than Zero’s Safe Home campaign has made an impact across late-night sectors like bar-work, catering, and entertainment.
This winter, discontent with late night policies turned into forceful union demands. Cineworld Renfrew Street staff hit the headlines when they wrote to bosses about their experience of sexual harassment as a direct result of cuts to their taxi allowances, which has forced changes in the policy.
Employers have started to respond to demands. Two major entertainment venues have committed to providing safe transport home for staff. The commitment from SWG3, a major events space and studio in Glasgow, was followed by the news that one of Scotland’s flagship comedy clubs, The Stand, would ensure a safe journey home for late-night staff.
As well as these profit-driven venues, Aberdeen University, Strathclyde University, and East Dunbartonshire Council have all committed to the Safe Home initiative.
Policy is changing too. After petitioning from the campaign, Glasgow City Council changed its licensing board recommendations to mandate that ‘all license holders should consider what arrangements are in place for staff getting home safely after the premises have closed… The Licensing Board is greatly encouraged by the ‘Safe Home’ initiative adopted by some license holders for their staff and would strongly encourage others to take a similarly responsible attitude to the safety of staff working within their premises at night.’ And as the prospect increases of 4am licenses, the board stated that applications would require ‘late night transport arrangements for staff’.
It’s organised workers that changes the law - and when they start to change, workers are doing something right. As the evenings get lighter the dangers of getting home late are reduced. But we will continue to campaign for the policies in workplaces and in legislation that will guarantee a safe journey home, and build on our demand that precarious work becomes free from sexual harassment and violence.