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Female railworkers, source: Women in Rail

European rail sector requires more female employees

To address the lack of staff, the European rail sector should recruit more female employees. Therefore, Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), representing railway sector employers, and European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), representing employees, have started the negotiations of an EU level agreement aimed at promoting the employment of women in the sector.

Currently, women account less than 20 per cent of staff employed by European railway companies. For some professions, the figure is even lower. By contrast, the entire labour market in Europe has a much higher level of female employees – 46 per cent. However, shortage of staff stimulates the industry to attract more workers. “The demographic situation in the rail companies all over Europe no longer allows the railway sector to do without the abilities, skills and talent of women,” noted Giorgio Tuti, the President of the EU Sectoral Social Dialogue for Railways.

Joint recommendations

CER and ETF are cooperating on better participation and integration of women in the rail sector and to track the developments since 2007. That year, the partners issued joint recommendations for attracting more female employees in the industry:

  • encourage women to choose technical occupations;
  • use selection processes which allow an unbiased selection of candidates;
  • establish procedures/benefits in railway companies to improve work-family balance;
  • develop actions to increase security for shift workers and swing-shift workers;
  • review the suitability rules and adjust them at the European level;
  • offer women employees equal access to all development and qualification measures;
  • promote a gender equality culture in training and upgrading for all workers by the railway companies and trade unions;
  • take concrete steps towards the implementation of the Community acquis on gender equality in the workplace;
  • corporate reporting on the share of women in a company in various fields of activities and levels of hierarchy.

Annual reports

As an outcome of these joint recommendations, CER and ETF are issuing the annual surveys devoted to the women in the rail sector since 2013. The latest issue of the report was published for 2017. “The proportion of women’s employment in European railway companies is steadily rising for years,” the document states. However, there is still a big difference between European countries and railway companies in the proportion of female employees. Thus, among 31 railway companies from 18 countries, the highest rate was recorded in Sweden at SJ with 41.6 per cent and Transdev Sverige with 39.6 per cent as well as in Slovakia at ZSSK with 35.6 per cent. The lowest proportion was recorded in the United Kingdom at DB Cargo UK with 7.3 per cent.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko is editor of online trade magazines RailTech.com and RailFreight.com.

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