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"Raising public awareness of this issue and its prevalence is one of the keys to addressing this issue. It is very clearly ‘not part of the job!’ All workers deserve to work in a safe environment and to be treated with respect regardless of their gender identity, religion, or ethnicity." — Bert Blundon, NUPGE President.
Ottawa (23 Nov. 2022) — November 25 marks the annual International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It is a day to help raise awareness about gender-based violence, to acknowledge the work that’s been done, and to recommit ourselves to action. It is also the first day of 16 globally recognized days of activism to end gender-based violence. These 16 days begin with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and end on Human Rights Day on December 10.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), as an affiliate of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), is endorsing its Never Again: End GBV at Work campaign to address gender-based harassment and violence in the workplace by highlighting third-party violence.
Addressing gender-based violence
In 2020, the CLC's first-ever Harassment & Violence in Canadian Workplaces: It’s [Not] Part of the Job survey found that 7 in 10 workers have experienced harassment and violence at some point in the last 2 years. Disturbingly, 1 in 3 of these incidents was perpetrated by third parties such as patients, clients, and customers.
“Violence and harassment happens in all corners of the workforce. Every day we hear stories of nurses being attacked by patients, hotel women workers being subject to sexual harassment from guests, servers being harassed by customers, and workers in all sectors facing rising rates of third-party harassment and violence,” said Bea Bruske, President of the CLC.
Workers who are women, two-spirit, transgender, non-binary or gender-nonconforming are disproportionately impacted by this harassment and violence as they are more likely to work with the public. They are often also exposed to systemic racism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia.
Existing legislation and workplace health and safety regulations do not adequately cover third-party violence. This makes it much more difficult for workers and unions to hold employers accountable for preventing violence and harassment and addressing it when it happens. Sadly, often workers are told that violence and harassment are ‘just part of the job.’
It is very clearly ‘not part of the job!’
“Raising public awareness of this issue and its prevalence is one of the keys to addressing this issue. It is very clearly ‘not part of the job!’ All workers deserve to work in a safe environment and to be treated with respect regardless of their gender identity, religion, or ethnicity,” stated Bert Blundon, NUPGE president.
“The National Union will continue to highlight this issue and work with the Canadian Labour Congress and its affiliates to push governments to take immediate and direct action on the issue.”
As part of the solution, the CLC and its affiliates are calling for a tripartite summit to discuss the urgent need to address this issue, to highlight the disproportionate impacts on workers who are women, two-spirit, transgender, non-binary and gender-nonconforming and to develop strategies to find solutions for addressing and preventing this violence.
As well, the CLC and its affiliates, including NUPGE, are calling on the federal government to ratify the International Labour Organization’s C190 - Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No.190). C-190 is the first international labour standard that focusses on ending violence and harassment at work. Once the convention is ratified by a country, it allows workers to hold governments and employers accountable for their commitments.
NUPGE has been urging the federal government to ratify C-190. Ratifying C-190 would be a major step forward by the federal government to commit to ending violence and harassment in Canadian workplaces.