A recent survey undertaken by Australia’s TWU of more than 400 members of cabin crew has revealed that 65 per cent have suffered some form of sexual harassment by either a colleague or passengers. Michael Kaine, the national secretary of the TWU, called the results of this survey “sad and shocking.”
“Reports include serious sexual assault, workers being pinned down and assaulted, passengers exposing themselves to crew, workers being touched on their groins and buttocks, highly sexualized comments and degrading comments targeted to crew because of their sexual orientation,” the TWU said in a statement. The survey also revealed that four-fifths of those responding had experienced harassment from colleagues while three-fifths said that they had experienced this kind of behavior from passengers.
Nearly 70 per cent of respondents also said that they opted to not formally report incidents of sexual harassment. The survey also indicated that these kinds of behaviors had been experienced among crew working for a number of major Australian carriers, including Qantas and Virgin Australia.
Speaking of the results, TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said, “These results are sad and shocking. They show that airlines are not taking the problem seriously and are not supporting workers when they are faced with what are daily assaults on them. It is clear that a culture exists at airlines to at best ignore the problem and at worst protect the perpetrators. Today we are lifting the lid on this widespread problem and demanding a change to the way sexual harassment of cabin crew is dealt with.”
He added, “We have had a lot of positive feedback from those we have contacted who took part in the survey. Many people want to see this issue exposed and dealt with. It is not good enough for airlines to say they have policies in place to deal with sexual harassment.”
“We know there are factors which exacerbate this problem for cabin crew: the hierarchical nature of their work environment, the over-nights that are part of their job and the strict dress codes which govern their appearance. Our survey shows there is an endemic problem that is subjecting hundreds of men and women to the most horrendous treatment,” Kaine said.