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The Coalition for a Safe World of Work is calling for an end to violence and harassment. Today is White Ribbon Day, the start of 16 days of activism to end violence against women.
Wheeti Haenga is a senior union delegate and one of the few women at the Tokoroa Mill where she works. Over a long career in male-dominated industries, she has seen and experienced far too much harassment and violence at work.
“Recently a young workmate of mine was refused permission to go to the toilet to change her period pad. What a terrible misuse of power by a supervisor, obviously done to shame and intimidate this woman. I never want to see anything like that ever again. Violence and harassment has to stop.
I believe education is key to helping change our work environments. As a union delegate I talk to every new person about respectful relationships and what’s ok and not ok at work. And I make sure people know that work can support them if they are dealing with domestic violence.”
Rachel Mackintosh, Vice-President of the CTU, is coordinating the coalition. She says, “It is possible and within our reach to have a society free of violence and harassment. We can undo the power imbalances and stereotypes that result in violence against women, minority communities and marginalised people in Aotearoa New Zealand.
“We all suffer from toxic and outdated ways of thinking about gender. There are many other healthy ways of being and interacting.”
The coalition for a safe world of work is campaigning for an end to violence and harassment in the world of work. The first phase of the campaign is to call for the ratification by the Aotearoa New Zealand Government of the International Labour Organisation Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (190).
Convention 190 establishes the right for people to live free from violence, in all its forms, in the world of work. It is an international legal convention that, when ratified by the government, gives us the opportunity to change the laws, policies, and attitudes that currently allow violence and harassment to happen at work.
It’s a big issue and we need integrated, preventative approaches where governments, employers, unions, NGOs and communities work together and we welcome anyone who would like to join us. The next coalition meeting is by Zoom on 8 December at 1.00pm.