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Women should ‘think twice’ about driving freight

WOMEN would “think twice” about becoming freight train drivers because of increasing workforce casualisation and the scant facilities on the privately owned network, the TUC women’s conference heard yesterday.

National Education Union delegate Corinne Lamoureux told the conference on International Women’s Day that she visited many depots during her eight years working in the industry as a sales and customer service manager amd had not seen a single female freight driver.

There are only 27 women train drivers in the hugely male-populated freight sector employed in the whole UK.

Ms Lamoureux, now a teacher, said: “I can vouch that you would really want to think twice about becoming a freight train driver because the facilities were so bad that the men were apologising for the conditions.”

She reported that pictures of topless women were stuck on kitchen walls and there was a lack of women’s toilets.

Ms Lamoureux urged delegates to back train drivers’ union Aslef’s motion, which was passed.

Aslef is calling on the conference to lobby the government to support renationalisation of the rail freight industry.

Ms Lamoureux pointed out that British government subsidies were being paid out to freight operator DB Cargo, which is owned by the German government through Deutsche Bahn.

Aslef delegate Alison Miller said that only 6 per cent of train drivers in general are women and this results in a very small pool of candidates for women freight drivers.

Casualisation of the industry has also seen a rise in zero-hours contracts, as well as changes in terms and conditions resulting in no fixed working locations, lack of hygienic facilities, overnight absences from home and longer driving turns.

She said: “Renationalisation of the rail freight industry would both promote jobs and improve conditions to encourage greater diversity.”

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