Safe spaces for youth and women must be a priority
In commemoration of International Youth Day tomorrow, the Bermuda Public Services Union joins our brothers and sisters around the world to recognise this year’s theme: “Safe Spaces for Youth”.
On this occasion, the BPSU is heeding the call from our global affiliate to send a strong message that “Violence is Not Part of the Job”.
Young workers, especially young women, face an increasing number of precarious working contracts and often accept intimidation, bullying and harassment in the workplace in an effort to retain their jobs and have a chance at building a career.
The BPSU strongly believes that all workplaces should be free from violence, bullying and harassment. To that end, the BPSU has been very active in efforts to raise awareness, support targeted persons and promote safe workplaces.
Through the BPSU’s educational programmes, the union has trained shop stewards to identify negative behaviours and has equipped them with the tools needed effectively to respond. Additionally, in May 2016, the BPSU produced an anti-bulling and harassment magazine to serve as a resource guide for both workers and employers.
The union believes that every workplace should have adequate violence and harassment policies. Good policies typically contain the following elements:
• A clear description of prohibited conduct
• The prohibition of violence and harassment covers everyone in the workplace — supervisors, co-workers and non-employees
• Employees are encouraged to report violence and harassment before it becomes severe or pervasive
• Assurance that employees who report acts of harassment, or provide information relating to such complaints, will be protected from any form of retaliation
• Clearly described reporting procedures, providing accessible and, where necessary, alternate avenues of complaint for the harassed worker
• Assurance that the employer, to the extent possible, will provide confidentiality of the complainant
• A complaint process providing a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation
• Assurance that the employer will take appropriate corrective action once it determines harassment has in fact occurred in its workplace
A well-drafted policy should be coupled with employee training on the subject matter to ensure employees know what their rights are and what channels to use in the event of any potential issue.
It is imperative that workplaces are free from violence and are places where young workers feel safe, can develop and add value in their selected occupation.
The BPSU will hold firm on its commitment to young workers and will continue to raise awareness on issues that affect young workers throughout the island.
• Jason Hayward is the president of the Bermuda Public Services Union and a government senator
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