Congress Calls for ‘Renewal and Redoubling’ of Efforts to Tackle Sexual Harassment

24 Nov 2017

Sexual Harassment

On the eve of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (Nov 25), Irish trade unions call for effective action against sexual harassment and violence.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions today (Nov 24) called for a renewal and redoubling of efforts to tackle sexual harassment and violence in the workplace and across wider society, including a revision in an existing workplace Code of Practice on sexual harassment.

Speaking on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (Nov 25), Congress Equality Officer David Joyce said: “As recent events have clearly demonstrated we need to renew and redouble our efforts if we are to effectively tackle sexual harassment and violence in the workplace and wider society.

“Trade unions and employers play a major role in making work safe for women, and helping to eliminate harassment and violence against women,” said Mr Joyce.

“Collective agreements have proven to be a most effective means to combat this scourge and it is timely to remind ourselves of the 2002 Code of Practice on Sexual Harassment at Work (revised in 2012) previously agreed between Congress and employers’ body IBEC.

“The code points out that the best way to minimise such behaviour in the workplace is through preventive measures and to create an effective policy with a strong commitment to implementation.”

Mr Joyce noted that Congress has also recently called for complaints of sexual harassment to be elevated to the status of ‘protected disclosures’ - as opposed to ‘workplace grievances’ - thereby ensuring stronger protection and reporting mechanisms for those submitting complaints. Congress General Secretary Patricia King has described this proposed change as “a potential game changer and a major step forward for those suffering such abuse.”

“Congress is now calling for a further revision of the Code to ensure the maximum protections for people and to review how best practice can deliver workplaces free of sexual harassment.

Congress is also supporting the campaign to push governments to support a binding International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention to end gender based violence in the workplace. The Irish Government has a seat on the ILO Governing Body and we urge them to play a proactive role in that regard.

“Women should not have to resort to #MeToo to expose abuse. There should be no more brushing of sexual harassment and violence under the carpet. Trade unions and employers need to renew efforts together to end it once and for all.” Mr Joyce concluded.