The ITF is clear that the mental health of workers is every bit as important as physical health. And yet, the impacts of precarious work, poverty-wages, unsafe conditions, and high-stress roles puts an enormous strain on the mental health of millions of workers on the front line of public transport.
For many workers, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated what was already a terrible situation. Increased workload, layoffs, social isolation, and the very real anxiety of being in one of the roles most exposed to the virus took the situation from bad to worse.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, and, indeed, it can’t go on like this.
As part of the ITF’s commitment to ensuring unions are equipped with all the knowledge and tools to protect their members’ mental health, the ITF Urban Transport team and Youth Department commissioned a new and groundbreaking report on the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of young public transport workers.
The report, published this week, was undertaken by a global team of researchers led by Paul Landsbergis at Downstate Health Sciences University, part of the State University of New York (SUNY), and explored initiatives in seven countries – Canada, Colombia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Spain, Uganda and the United States.
These case studies from around the world demonstrate that unions are already involved in important initiatives to support the mental health of young public transport workers. These activities range from educating members and direct service provision, to collective bargaining with employers and lobbying governments to achieve structural change. In a number of places, it was shown that initiatives related to ‘bread and butter’ union issues like decent pay also had positive side-effects on mental health, underlining the vital link between these issues.
As the ITF recognises occupational safety and health (OSH) as one the key global themes in the lead-up to the 46th Congress in 2024, it is vital that mental health is treated on a par with physical health in the workplace. Across both mental and physical health, we need a shift in emphasis from the behaviour of individual workers to the responsibility of governments and employers to ensure safe and healthy working environments.
In support of this, the ITF will shortly launch an online course via the IFWEA Online Labour Academy to support union officials and reps. The course will take a ‘train the trainers’ approach with participants who hold particular responsibilities for youth and/or OSH issues within their unions. We aim to roll out the course to all ITF regions over the coming months.
You can read the full report here:
A briefing paper to accompany this report is also available here: https://www.itfglobal.org/en/resources/essential-public-services-essential-workers-health-briefing-paper