A Quarter of Female Union Members Sexually Harassed at Events, Especially Ones with Alcohol, ASLEF Survey Finds

Photo Credits - Kaitlyn Baker via Unsplash

A recent internal ASLEF survey has found deeply troubling findings within its ranks. The survey carried out in 2022 reveals that a quarter of female union members reported instances of sexual harassment. Particularly at union events where alcohol was involved.

What the ASLEF Survey Says

The ASLEF survey, done to gain insight into sexual harassment within the union, reveals shocking findings. 

Of the 1,483 women approached, 467 responded, unveiling a distressing reality. Four female members bravely came forward. They allege rape or sexual assault by their male colleagues at ASLEF events and in the workplace.

The internal report, compiled by Assistant General Secretary Simon Weller, shows the prevalence of sexual harassment at union events. Particularly the annual assembly of delegates and district council gatherings, often associated with post-meeting alcohol consumption. Of the respondents, a quarter disclosed experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, at union meetings or social events.

These findings expose the magnitude of the issue within the trade union movement. Further, it also highlights the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address and eradicate such behaviour.

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ASLEF Survey – TUC and ASLEF Statements

In response to the revelations, TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak issued a strong statement. He condemns the sexual assault, harassment, and bullying within the trade union movement. Nowak expressed solidarity with the victims and survivors, acknowledging the seriousness of the ASLEF survey findings.

Nowak praised ASLEF for commissioning an internal survey to comprehensively understand the nature and extent of sexual harassment and bullying within the union. He highlighted the importance of taking action. Also, ASLEF’s commitment to implementing new measures aimed at protecting women in the union and ensuring the safety of staff and members.

These statements reflect a collective acknowledgement of the gravity of the issue and a commitment to fostering a safer and more respectful environment within the trade union movement.

ASLEF’s response to the survey findings demonstrates a commitment to instigating real culture change within the union. 

The establishment of one-day training courses and a confidential reporting hotline reflects proactive measures to address sexual harassment at work. The creation of a women’s network acts as an additional avenue to encourage transparency and support victims.

It is commendable that ASLEF is not only acknowledging the issue but actively taking steps to rectify it. However, the real test lies in the implementation and effectiveness of these measures over time.

Public Responses to the ASLEF Survey

On X, formerly Twitter, the public share their thoughts on the matter. After the revelation of the ASLEF sexual harassment survey findings, many were appalled. 

ASLEF Survey response
ASLEF Survey, TUC on X

The TUC also shared their full statement on their X account. Following the upsetting findings, the public outcry for change is apparent. The ASLEF survey findings expose a distressing reality within the trade union movement, emphasising the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address and eliminate sexual harassment at work.

Banter vs Harassment

One aspect that surfaces from the ASLEF survey findings is the distinction between banter and harassment. The ASLEF sexual harassment survey highlights instances where male co-workers engaged in banter, lewd jokes, and the display of explicit material. However, it is crucial to recognise that this seemingly casual banter can contribute to an atmosphere conducive to harassment.

The blurred line between banter and harassment is a point of concern, and the ASLEF survey findings underscore the need for clear boundaries and education on what constitutes inappropriate behaviour. 

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Tackling the issue requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond addressing explicit instances to fostering a culture that prioritises respect and equality.

The distinction between banter and harassment calls for a nuanced approach to education and cultural change. While the ASLEF survey serves as a wake-up call, it also presents an opportunity for the trade union movement to lead by example in fostering workplaces that are free from harassment and discrimination.

TUC’s Ongoing Efforts

Paul Nowak’s statement also sheds light on the ongoing efforts of the TUC to address sexual harassment within the trade union movement. The dedicated programme of training for union officers and senior leaders, along with the toolkit tailored for trade union workplaces, illustrates a proactive approach to tackle sexual harassment and the underlying cultural issues that enable it.

The commitment to continuous improvement is evident in Nowak’s acknowledgement that there is more work to be done. TUC’s dedication to ensuring that the union movement is a safe and supportive space for women reflects a broader commitment to eradicating sexual harassment at work.

Redmans Solicitors and their team of expert employment lawyers can offer advice and guidance on employment law matters, including sexual harassment. Contact their employment law specialists today!


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