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Never just a bit of banter

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This week workers up and down the country will be celebrating being part of a union. Heart Unions week is increasingly one of our most popular events taking place throughout the week leading to valentine's day.
Heart Unions

The week is all about recruiting people. Strong unions matter within and beyond the workplace – growing inequality is inextricably bound up with falling union density, the evidence is clear. 

Building stronger unions is central to economic justice, we must use every opportunity to celebrate the positive impact we bring to people’s lives. Heart unions week is just that opportunity.   

It's a chance for reps and activists to publicise what they've been doing and make the case for union membership and it’s also a week to focus on a key campaign issue. 

The campaign focus for Heart Unions week is ending sexual harassment in the workplace.  

Sexual harassment at work can take many forms, from suggestive remarks, jokes about a colleague’s sex life, circulating pornography, to inappropriate touching, hugging or kissing, or demands for sexual favours. 

The TUC’s “still just a bit of banter report” showed, in the vast majority of cases (88%), the perpetrator of the sexual harassment was male, and nearly one in five (17%) women reported that it was their line manager, or someone with direct authority over them. 

How many times do we still hear that sexual harassment in the workplace is just a bit of ‘banter’? 

Let’s be clear – sexual harassment is undermining, humiliating and can have a huge effect on mental health. Victims are often left feeling ashamed and frightened. It has no place in a modern workplace, or in wider society. 

Employers must be clear. They have a zero-tolerance attitude to sexual harassment and treat any complaint seriously. It’s a scandal that so few women feel their bosses are dealing with the issue properly. 

We're demanding employers to take reasonable steps to protect workers from sexual harassment and victimisation. Most employers rely on individuals reporting cases, but this is not enough. 4 out of 5 people don’t feel able to report sexual harassment to their employer. We’ve got a plan to radically change this - but we need you with us. 

It should not be down to the individual to prevent and manage their harassment alone. That's why we're demanding a new, easily enforceable legal duty requiring employers to take all reasonable steps to protect workers from sexual harassment and victimisation. 

And we're not alone, over 20 other organisations also think #ThisIsNotWorking and agree that it's time the government took immediate action. To see a full list of the #ThisIsNotWorking alliance. 

Across the North East and Cumbria, we have over 40 workplace events, and street stalls, highlighting the good work unions do. We are encouraging signatures for our petition calling for a change in the law on sexual harassment and encouraging union reps to negotiate and develop policies in workplaces that protect workers from sexual harassment.    

Anyone worried about inappropriate behaviour at work should join a union to make sure they are protected and respected at work. 

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