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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

26 November 2017

The issue of sexual harassment in the workplace has been headline news for several weeks and allegations ranging from inappropriate behaviour to rape have been levelled at celebrities and some MPs working in Westminster.

mans hand on womans shoulder

In response to these developments the CWU recognises that sexual harassment is not confined to Westminster and can be a significant issue in workplaces.

To reinforce this point we are promoting a major TUC survey and report undertaken in 2016 entitled “Still Just a Bit of Banter?” (Sexual Harassment in the Workplace 2016).

The Report focused on the treatment of women in the modern workplace and the key findings were as follows:

  • More than half (52 per cent) of all women polled have experienced some form of sexual harassment.
  • Nearly two thirds of young women (age 18-24) have experienced some form of sexual harassment.
  • 32 per cent of women have been subject to unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature.
  • 28 per cent of women have been subject to comments of a sexual nature about their body or clothes.
  • Nearly one quarter of women have experienced unwanted touching (such as a hand on the knee or lower back).
  • One fifth of women have experienced unwanted sexual advances.
  • More than one in ten women reported experiencing unwanted sexual touching or attempts to kiss them.
  • In the vast majority of cases, the perpetrator was a male colleague, with nearly one in five reporting that their direct manager or someone else with direct authority over them was the perpetrator.
  • Four out of five women did not report the sexual harassment to their employer.
  • Crucially for trade unions, only 1 per cent of those polled who had experienced sexual harassment reported it to their union.

CWU Review

In light of these developments the union will now review our own approach to tackling sexual harassment in the workplace, including support for representatives in dealing with cases with the employer and consideration of whether the issue of sexual harassment is adequately covered in our own Rule Book and internal procedures as both an employer and as a trade union organisation. These matters will be fully discussed at the NEC meeting on the 30 November 2017.

We must be clear that sexual harassment in any shape or form is completely unacceptable and that we all have a role to play in making workplaces safe and inclusive for all workers.