On November 25th – Canada’s unions are raising awareness on Gender-Based Violence at Work

November 25, 2022

Every day in Canada women, two-spirit, trans, non-binary and gender nonconforming workers face life-threatening violence and harassment at work. Today, November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the first day of 16 globally recognized days of activism to end gender-based violence. This year the Canadian Labour Congress is continuing its work to address gender-based harassment and violence in the world of work by shining the spotlight on third-party violence. Today and everyday workers are saying #NeverAgain: End Gender Based Violence at Work.

We know that gender-based harassment and violence continue to pose a major risk to worker safety. In 2020, the CLC’s first-ever National Survey on Harassment and Violence at Work found that 7 in 10 workers have experienced harassment and violence at some point in the last two years. Disturbingly, 1 in 3 of these incidents were perpetrated by third parties such as patients, clients, and customers. 

“Violence and harassment happens in all corner of the workforce. Every day we hear stories of nurses being attacked by patients, hotel women workers being subject to sexual harassment from guests, servers being harassed by customers, and workers in all sectors facing rising rates of third-party harassment and violence,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.  “We know that third-party violence is a persistent and escalating issue for women, two-spirit, trans, non-binary and gender nonconforming workers who are more likely to work in public-facing sectors. Another crushing example is education workers who experience physical violence and verbal abuse from both students and parents. These are the people supporting, helping and caring for our kids. Many of these workers are further targeted by third-party violence due to systemic racism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia that permeate workplaces.”

“Addressing gender-based violence from third parties is a matter of critical urgency,” said Siobhán Vipond, CLC Executive Vice-President. “Since the pandemic began, we have seen increased rates of third-party violence and harassment against frontline workers and workers in public-facing jobs. Yet, governments and employers have taken little action and there is a huge gap in Canadian legislation in terms of third-party violence.” 

 “Canadian workers urgently need a gender-responsive and intersectional approach to address this issue,” continued Bruske. “The Canadian Labour Congress is encouraged by the news that the Federal government is taking action to implement International Labour Convention 190 on harassment and violence at work. This Convention offers a comprehensive framework for addressing harassment and violence and recognizes the disproportionate impact on women and gender-diverse workers.” 

“The labour movement wants to work with governments and employers to create a comprehensive plan for implementing C190 so we can tackle the issue of gender-based harassment and violence at work. We are calling on the federal government to hold a tripartite summit so workers, particularly workers who are impacted by gender-based violence, have a say in how the Convention is implemented. Inaction on third-party violence can be deadly for workers in Canada.”

Read more about third-party violence and harassment at work and its impacts on women, two-spirit, trans, non-binary and gender-nonconforming workers.

To read the results of the National Survey on Harassment and Violence at work click here.

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