Belfast City Council motion on sexual harassment is welcome but must be followed up with action to secure zero tolerance approach

Living Wage meetUnite launches its ‘Give us the goss on your boss’ survey of Northern Ireland hospitality workers

December 3rd: Speaking ahead of this evening’s vote on a Belfast City Council motion dealing with the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, Unite hospitality organiser, Neil Moore said.

“Sexual harassment is a huge issue for young workers, especially female workers, in precarious employment contracts in the hospitality sector. Unite is today launching our ‘Give us the goss on your boss’ survey to collect detailed information on sexual harassment and other workplace abuses throughout the sector. 

“This research on the experience of workers in Northern Ireland comes after a UK-wide study conducted by Unite indicated that nine out of ten workers had experienced sexual harassment while working, whether that was from customers, fellow employees or the boss. 

“While we welcome the intent of this motion, the issue of sexual harassment cannot be limited to customers but must include those staff working in the hospitality sector who face abuse day and daily. For far too long management has had the attitude of there being an acceptable level of harassment of their staff.

“Unite the union is calling for Belfast City Council to follow up support for this motion with concrete action. We are calling for changes to its licensing regime to impose a duty of care on employers to ensure their staff are safe from harassment and are able to get home safely. If you are serious about tackling sexual harassment there can be no excuse for inaction”, Mr Moore said.

Unite hospitality branch secretary, Amy Ferguson, is leading in the effort to unionise hospitality workers and has experienced sexual harassment at first hand in her workplace.

“Sexual harassment of workers is pervasive in the hospitality sector but we are saying enough is enough. Hospitality employees in Northern Ireland are not on the menu.

“Unfortunately, the focus of hospitality bosses seems to be more about getting good publicity from paying customers by focussing exclusively on their safety and welfare, while they turn a blind eye to the sexual harassment and abuse of staff who are considered expendable. Belfast City Council must act to ensure a zero tolerance policy on the sexual harassment of everyone in the sector – customers and employees”, Ms Ferguson concluded.

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