It’s our problem.
Violence or abuse can happen in any workplace or family. It can happen to women, men and children. It can happen to people of any culture and background. No one – no supervisor, co-worker, husband, wife, boyfriend or relative has the right to abuse another person. There is no excuse for violence or abuse. It’s wrong. It’s against the law.
While it’s true that only a small number of people commit acts of violence and abuse, it’s also true that a staggering number of people have been the victims of violence. The odds are that we all know someone who has been abused or is facing abuse right now.
Let’s put it on the table. The United Steelworkers pass tough policies and negotiate contract language every day to protect the health and safety of workers. Violence and harassment are health and safety issues. The risk to one is a risk to us all. Use this guide to help raise the issue at your bargaining table, at the family table, the community table and the government table. Work with your staff representative, local union officers, women’s committee, health and safety committee and human rights committee to develop contract language and the support needed to implement policies and procedures that will provide people with the confidence to come to the union for help.
Women and men can be victims of violence. Young girls and women are at risk and continue to face the threat of harassment and violence into their adult lives. Many men who have reported abuse were abused as young boys. This guide often refers to victims as female reflecting the fact that women are more likely to be subjected to acts of violence.
The United Steelworkers acknowledges the many community resources that address issues of violence. We particularly want to thank Education Wife Assault, the Toronto Board of Education and the Steelworkers’ National Women’s and Human Rights Committees for their assistance. Much of the material included in this guide can be found in labour, provincial and federal publications on violence.
Reading this guide takes you one step closer to putting the issue on the table. Making it available and helping people to “break the silence” is another. Sections of this guide and a series of shorter leaflets can be copied, posted and distributed. Invite a speaker to a unit or local meeting. Participate in events on December 6th, National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Help raise money for services for victims of violence. Ask candidates running for political office what they will do to help reduce and end violence in our communities.
Finally, thank you. Your help in raising issues of abuse and violence will make a difference. Helping to “break the silence” may help to protect a child or adult from abuse and violence. Protecting the health and safety of workers and their families is something we can do together.
Canadian National Director
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