The UK Trades Union Congress and Everyday Sexism report ‘Still just a bit of banter?’, released yesterday, supports what the ITF is hearing from women transport workers globally (not just in the UK where the report was conducted) – that there are high levels of sexual harassment in their workplaces and as a result they feel disempowered, ashamed and reluctant to report their experiences.
The report shows that women in more precarious employment are at high risk of experiencing sexual harassment, as are those who work in male-dominated and heavily segregated workplaces. The transport industry is full of workplaces like this. Get more here on the ITF work to support precarious transport workers.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO 2013) “Violence against transport workers is one of the most important factors limiting the attraction of transport jobs for women and breaking the retention of those who are employed in the transport sector.”
Neither the current international framework nor national laws provide sufficient protection against gender-based violence, including sexual harassment, in the workplace.
ILO Convention on violence against women and men in the world of work
The approaching discussions over the adoption of a Convention and/or Recommendation on violence against women and men in the world of work are hugely important. There is currently no international instrument on this issue and while sexual harassment at work is covered by existing ILO standards and training materials, it is vital that we get an all-encompassing treaty on this issue, one that covers prevention as well as redress. This is why we are calling on our affiliates to share their workers’ stories to build evidence to win a really strong instrument that will then help unions to negotiate with employers and lobby governments for stronger protection for workers. Hostile employer bodies and governments will be preparing hard to undermine our argument so let’s work together to build a strong case. This information will be helpful at any point throughout the process but of particular importance before the meeting of experts 3-6 October 2016.
We need you to be involved in this work – here’s how: 9 Things you and your union can do factsheet.
Scarlet Harris, the TUC’s Women’s Equality Officer, rightly says: “We need to take a proactive and collective approach to challenging workplace sexism, discrimination and harassment. The onus to challenge harassment cannot all be on individual women to take grievances or tribunal cases.” Read Scarlet’s blog post here.
“The TUC report has given us a current and true picture of the extent of sexual harassment across workplaces in the UK. Globally women transport workers face endemic sexual harassment at work, disempowering their lives and leaving them fearful to report and even ashamed. We encourage women to break the silence and speak out through their union so that together we can ensure women transport workers are recognised as high risk within the proposed ILO Convention on violence against women and men in the world of work. This will provide another tool for unions around the world to negotiate with employers for stronger prevention and support for women survivors of workplace violence.” Diana Holland, Unite the Union assistant general secretary and ITF women transport workers’ committee chair
Training, education and the Women’s Advocate Programme
We support the TUC report’s recommendations of training, workplace campaigns and negotiating workplace policies around sexual harassment. The TUC report found that ‘only one percent of those women who had experienced sexual harassment confided in their union rep’ but we’re working hard to address this issue. Research shows survivors of violence are much more likely to talk to someone they know when making disclosures of sexual harassment and gender-based violence. The ITF is currently developing a global women’s advocate programme, based on research and training from the Canadian union Unifor. Over the last twenty years Unifor have bargained 335 women’s advocates into over 300 of their represented workplaces. Women’s advocates are specially trained representatives who assist and support women experiencing violence and/or harassment. The Unifor Women’s Advocate Programme is hugely successful and now a mandatory claim in their collective bargaining negotiations. This is about women being trained to support women on this fundamental workplace safety issue. Read our Facts about women’s advocacy.
What can you do right now?
Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to explore the possibility of a women’s advocate programme in your union, need more information about what you can do to support the ILO Convention work or to share your worker stories and campaign successes.