Member Support Officer
For some time now, women have raised concern around there being no access to sanitary items when they are out and about working in the rail and tram industries. In September at the monthly RTBU Women meeting this concern was formalised and the women urged the RTBU to write to the companies pushing for change.
As I’m sure everyone can appreciate, a woman’s time of the month doesn’t often come when expected. It can be quick and it can occur when you least expect it, and let’s be honest, all of us women have been there at some point or another in life. So what can we do to help this?
RTBU women decided that a solution moving forward would be to have sanitary vending machines installed in all bathrooms across the rail and tram networks. If you’re not sure what these are, next time you’re in a shopping centre or a general public bathroom look around on the walls. Chances are that there is a sanitary vending machine on the wall where you can purchase sanitary items for a small fee.
In many cases, companies will even provide these vending machines at no cost to the customer as they then reap the benefits through the profits of sales in the machines.
Having sanitary items made available through the vending machines in all bathrooms would save many women from doing the awkward dash to the closest service station or supermarket to purchase her sanitary items.
Imagine you are an Authorised Officer in a crew of four, three of them being men. Would you feel comfortable telling them that you need to run across to the nearest shop to buy sanitary items?
Or you’re a Tram Driver who has gone to the bathroom during the quick changeover between driving a tram only to discover that the time of the month has come early. Would you feel comfortable holding up a tram full of passengers so that you can run to the nearest shop to buy sanitary items?
I sure wouldn’t and I doubt many people would. It is an issue that is taboo and one that not many people speak about, however it affects women every single day.
Last month Branch Secretary Luba Grigorovitch wrote a letter to each of the CEOs of our major operators (V/Line, Yarra Trams and Metro) to request that they explore the options of installing sanitary vending machines in all bathrooms and toilets across the network.
I am pleased to report that Yarra Trams are looking into options for this, however, unfortunately, Metro have denied to even explore it.
Metro advised that they do not agree that installing sanitary vending machines is and I quote “an appropriate solution at this time” however they do believe that the provision of “ a sanitary item within our first aid kits at relevant locations, as a trial… would be a suitable action.”
I am completely appalled that a company can think that putting sanitary items in some first aid kids at some locations is a viable solution. Last time I checked, first aid kits were used to treat an injury or illness, so since when did a woman’s period become an injury?
To expect women to go to their Station Master, manager or fellow colleague to get access to the first aid kit in the hope that a sanitary item may be available is disgraceful. I can only hope that Metro will realise how unreasonable this is and will reconsider their position.
V/Line have yet to respond to the letter and we will update the RTBU Women’s Committee in due course.
We will not let this go. These companies claim to want to be equal for all employees and an attractive employer for both men and women. Well if that is the case, here lies the perfect step in the right direction.