MAST inspectors join forces to tackle sexual harassment
According to a study by Tufts University in the United States, at the launch of the Better Work Haiti programme, around one-in-three garment workers, the majority of them women, reported problems with sexual harassment at their workplace. This is a notoriously difficult and sensitive issue to uncover during compliance assessments. Better Work Haiti has strengthened its policies to prevent sexual harassment by publicising the types of behaviour considered to be harassment, as well as zero-tolerance policy. All workers and employers, including middle and top management, received compliance training regarding this Zero Tolerance Policy and methods to prevent sexual harassment.
In addition, labour inspectors joined this group of trainees. In our 2019 assessments, 6% of factories reviewed indicated that workers had been subject to sexual harassment.
“Factories must ensure that zero-tolerance policies against sexual harassment are well communicated and well understood by all workers and do not remain on paper and simply displayed on a notice board.” Pierre André, factory worker
“Before, there was a supervisor who was harassing a worker. The worker complained. The management found that it was true, and the person was fired.” A bipartite committee member
MEASURES IMPLEMENTED BY BETTER WORK HAITI
♦ The program’s training plan was updated to include quarterly training on sexual harassment prevention and other zero tolerance protocol topics;
♦ Factories received the zero-tolerance policy on harassment and began anti-sexual harassment communications campaigns;
♦ Better Work’s supervisory skills training has helped raise awareness of this issue among supervisors;
♦ Factories trained all their employees on what constitutes harassment and abuse. They also reviewed their sexual harassment policies in consultation with the trade union committee;
♦ By establishing policies on this issue, factory management is now more engaged in preventing sexual harassment and is conducting internal training for supervisors;
♦ Better Work organised a training programme on sexual harassment called: ‘Respectful Workplace’ with other national partners to discuss the problematic of reducing
the cases of sexual harassment. We also discussed opportunities and actions to overcome these issues, which remain clear barriers to the empowerment of women and development of their skills in the place of work.
The following results were shared by workers after training sessions and during advisories with Performance Improvement Consultative Committee (PICC) members:
♦ Workers were more likely to report cases of sexual harassment;
♦ Workers cited several cases in which offenders had been fired by management;
♦ Female workers reported that supervisors were more respectful.