Train hostesses can wear the trousers at last

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The Independent Online

The hostesses who hand you a newspaper or a glass of sherry on the AVE high-speed train between Madrid and Seville have won their 12-year campaign to wear trousers at work.

The hostesses who hand you a newspaper or a glass of sherry on the AVE high-speed train between Madrid and Seville have won their 12-year campaign to wear trousers at work.

Since the high-speed line opened in 1992, the azafatas - "ladies in waiting" - have had to wear a skirt, 2cm above the knee. The women hated the uniform, not only for aesthetic reasons but because it wasn't practical. "The skirt forced us into unnatural postures when we had to get things from the trolley," said Gema Perujo, an AVE hostess since 1994.

Spain's first female Public Works minister, Magdalena Alvarez, has announced that hostesses can wear trousers if they want. "Female AVE workers have the right to feel comfortable, and not feel under scrutiny just because they are women," she said.

It has been a long battle. The National Court rejected the workers' demand in 1999. They took it to the Supreme Court in 2001, but it ruled skirt regulations were a matter for the company. In 2002 the conservative government rejected a plea for women to have the right to choose their uniform.

Ms Perujo said: "We do hard work. We are not decoration. Let's hope the decision has a knock-on effect on other companies."

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