Harassment – It’s Not Part of the Job

Back to all Motions

2023 National Delegate Conference
21 February 2023
Carried as Amended

Conference notes the findings of the 2018 Trades Union Congress (TUC) report into third party harassment of young workers titled “Not part of the job”, the 2016 TUC report into sexual harassment at work titled “Still just a bit of banter?”, TUC research into experiences of sexual harassment of Black workers (2017), young workers (2017), LGBT+ workers (2019) and disabled women workers (2021), and of the TUC Anti-Racism Taskforce’s 2022 report into racism at work, all of which found deeply disturbing levels of harassment, abuse and violence towards workers.

According to the “Not part of the job” report, nearly one in five workers aged 18-34 had been subjected to some form of harassment, abuse or violence at work. 36 percent of this was perpetrated by a third party, such as a service user, business associate or external staff member. 70 percent of those who experienced third-party verbal abuse, 63 percent of those who experienced third party bullying, 57 percent of those who experienced third party sexual harassment, and half of those who experienced physical assault or violence from third parties had been subjected to these behaviours three or more times. The TUC found in 2017 that 37 percent of Black women workers who experienced sexual harassment said this was also racial, and in 2022 that 41 percent of all Black workers surveyed had experienced racist behaviour at work. These are just a few of many worrying statistics.

Conference agrees that these findings, and many more workers’ experiences, constitute a mountain of evidence showing real and serious safety issues which are worsened by a widespread lack of support or protection for workers. Conference agrees that these issues are pressing ones for public sector workers, in particular those working unsociable hours or working alone, and that our employers must prioritise action to protect workers.

Conference notes the work done by the National Women’s Committee on tackling sexual harassment at work and by the National Black Members Committee on addressing racism in the workplace. In addition, conference notes that useful training and campaign materials are already available from the TUC.

Conference regrets that bullying and sexual harassment remain serious issues within the trade union movement itself, as the recent Kennedy Report into the TSSA has shown. Conference believes that as trade unionists we must model good behaviour when it comes to all forms of harassment.

Conference calls on the National Executive Council to:

1)Promote existing model policies and other relevant materials around harassment, abuse, violence and safeguarding at work across the service group;

2)Work with relevant sections of the union to develop model policies where relevant ones do not currently exist, and promote these;

3)Provide information to UNISON branches on negotiating adequate safety measures for lone workers, commuters and those working unsociable hours;

4)Promote awareness and understanding across UNISON of issues around harassment, abuse and violence, with a particular focus on combatting sexual harassment and racism;

5)Promote and facilitate training within branches around safety issues and means of proactively addressing them both at work and in the union;

6)Share and promote the guidance and campaigning materials from UNISON’s National Women’s Committee on tackling sexual harassment in the workplace;

7)Share and promote the guidance and campaigning materials from UNISON’s National Black Members Committee on tackling racism in the workplace;

8)Work with the National Young Members Forum to promote UNISON’s work tackling harassment and safety at work to young members in UNISON and young workers across public services;

9)Take a zero-tolerance attitude to bullying and harassment within UNISON, and to review UNISON’s processes on these issues so that taking part in UNISON is safe and welcoming for all.