FFAW: 'More work needs to be done' to prevent harassment in workplace
Union responds after employee outlines regular harassment at work
The Fish, Food and Allied Workers union says it needs to do more to make its workplaces safer, after an employee detailed her own struggles with sexual harassment at the office.
In a special piece for CBC Radio's On the Go last week, FFAW project co-ordinator Dwan Street urged listeners to think about their own right to feel safe in the workplace and not be subjected to vulgar, sexually explicit comments that affect their ability to do their jobs.
In my workplace … he felt it was appropriate to crack a joke that insinuated if he worked in close vicinity to me, he would sexually assault me.- Dwan Street
"This is a job that you've worked hard to get. You work hard every day to do the best of your ability," said Street, who was disappointed by a recent court ruling on a man shouting obscenities at an NTV reporter.
"I've heard the comments too: 'Take a joke.' 'He didn't mean it.' 'Lighten up.' 'If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.' What a steaming pile all of that is."
Street said she was sitting in her workplace when a man — not a coworker — slid into the seat next to her and whispered, "I'm some glad I don't work in the office with you."
Not isolated incident
When she asked him why, she said he told her, "Because you would be saying, 'Me too,'" referring to a movement involving women sharing their own encounters with sexual assault and harassment.
"In my workplace, in a professional meeting, he felt it was appropriate to crack a joke that insinuated if he worked in close vicinity to me, he would sexually assault me," she said.
It wasn't an isolated incident, either, said Street.
"I've been told there will be bloodshed by a man who was spitting in my face in a meeting. I've had a fist cocked in my face, called a c--t while explaining policy, been asked in a meeting if I was there to cook dinner, and I've had advances made to grab my crotch when I walk by to get a coffee. The list goes on. Here's a newsflash: this is not OK, b'ys. Not OK."
FFAW reviewing polices and procedures, says spokesperson
Jessica McCormick, assistant to FFAW president Keith Sullivan, told On the Go on Monday that the fishery isn't limited to its office on Hamilton Avenue in St. John's.
"Many of our staff spend a good chunk of their day out in the community on a wharf in a town hall, meeting with the general public. So we need to reflect on how we create safer working environments for our employees," she said.
McCormick said the union is taking steps to address complaints like Street's, and is considering ways to beef up its own policies to better protect employees.
"We also need to think about, how do we change culture and society to ensure that everybody knows that this is not OK, this is not how you properly interact with people? So there's more work that needs to be done, beyond just policies on paper."
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Le 27 février 2018