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Rooting out sexual harassment a priority for the union

As a woman, I am troubled by the sexual harassment and abuse women face in society in general and especially at work.  As a union leader, I am sorry we have not been able to combat these problems more effectively, despite years of trying.

One of the women to speak out about such abuse is a former union member. The experience she describes is unacceptable. No one should be harassed at work. We admire her courage in speaking out and are sorry for the pain she has experienced. Since I and union staff became aware of this issue, we have reached out to her and have offered and continue to offer her any assistance that we can provide.

As a union, our reason for being is to help people at work. We have a policy of zero tolerance for harassment; we have also negotiated a complaint process into our collective agreement with CBC.  It appears these did not work. If this is the case we have to do better, and we are already reviewing and trying to improve our processes.

CMG represents more than five thousand media workers at many media organizations, and we take our responsibility to make workplaces safe and secure seriously. This issue is now a priority for us, and we are beginning talks with all of our employers about how we can make real and lasting improvements as we shift our culture towards one in which abuse and harassment do not take place. We know we have to have effective ways to help anyone who needs it.

My deep hope is that in acknowledging how prevalent harassment can be, we will be closer to finding real solutions in the months ahead.

One of the main reasons I got involved in union work was to help make workplaces more welcoming and safer for everyone, especially women and others who are often excluded. This situation has reminded me just how difficult sexual harassment is to root out, and that it isn’t enough to have a zero-tolerance policy and good intentions; we have to keep fighting and keep listening when people reveal concerns to us, to make the policy a reality for everyone.

Carmel Smyth
National President
Canadian Media Guild


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