Why ETU members are taking the pledge

Nicholas McCallum

It's time to call out harassment at work, at home or anywhere you see it. 

For 16 days through November and December, the ETU called on its members to stand up and take the pledge against gender-based violence in the workplace.

The 16 Days of Activism Campaign is an push led by the United Nations National Committee Australia to address the shocking numbers of women everywhere who are subjected to many forms of harassment, discrimination and violence – in the home and at work.

In an average week in Australia, one woman is killed by someone she knows – either a current or former partner or a family member.

In 2018 that number has already screeched to 66 women killed, some alongside children, and 13 more than in 2017. 

It’s a damning statistic and the ETU calls on members to say to take the pledge and call out violence and harassment when they see it.

One practical action members are encouraged to take is demanding the inclusion of a domestic violence leave clause being added to Enterprise Bargaining Agreements – one that includes paid leave for all workers who find themselves in such a horrid situation. (Read more on the ACTU’s domestic violence clause here).

The union’s campaign brought together pictures submitted by ETU women and messages from ETU and CEPU secretaries, calling on all members to speak up and stop violence at work, home or anywhere they see it.

Women members held signs bearing the names and ages of the women killed throughout 2018, their years varying from teenagers to some women in their 80s.

CEPU Organiser Jess Rogers said: “It makes me proud to be part of a union whose members and leaders get behind important campaigns like this.

“I want to be a part of the solution and this shows they do too.

“There are few things more powerful than a group of people coming together to achieve a common goal and I think our members coming together to get paid DV leave in enterprise agreements is a great use of that collective power.

“I look forward to hearing about the progress that is made in all ETU EAs moving forward.”

The campaign wrapped as the ACTU released the damning stats from a survey detailing nearly 10,000 Australian workers’ experiences with sexual harassment at work.

It found that two in three women and one in three men have been subject to one or more forms of sexual harassment at work.

The peak body for working people took responses from 9607 people – 68% of whom were women – from across all sectors of Australia’s economy, including education and public services to mining, finance and hospitality.

ACTU President Michele O’Neil said the staggering numbers revealed “very few believe that our current rules will deliver them justice”.

“For many people – mainly women – today in Australia this is not the reality. Our workplace laws have failed women who are experiencing harassment at work,” she said.

“The results show that while nearly two thirds of women and one third of men have experienced harassment, very few believe that our current rules will deliver them justice.”

Nearly two thirds of women, 64%, who responded to the survey said they’d experienced sexual harassment at a current or former workplace, along with one-in-three men (35%).

The most common form of harassment was crude or offensive behaviour, which 69% of respondents said they had experienced at work.

Meanwhile 48% noted experiencing unwanted sexual attention, 35% had experienced inappropriate touching and 18% had received explicit texts, emails or messages on social media. More than 750 respondents, 8% in total, said they had experienced sexual coercion.

ACTU President O’Neil Australian workers needed better protections in place so people who experience harassment at work can feel safe raising their story with an independent third party.

“We need to change the rules. Sexual harassment is a workplace issue and people who experience it should be able to take it up through the workplace umpire,” she said.

“We need access to fair, effective and efficient complaints mechanisms that support people who’ve been harassed, not punish them.”

If you or someone you know is at threat from harm due to bullying, harassment or violence, you can seek help. 
Don’t suffer alone.

If it’s an emergency or someone is in danger call 000

1800RESPECT - 1800 737 732

Relationships Australia
1300 364 277

Mensline Australia
1300 789 978

Family Relationship Advice Line
1800 050 321

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