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  • Writer's pictureRosa International

Hospitality Workers Stand Up to Sexual Harassment at Work

ROSA Socialist Feminist Movement in Northern Ireland launches joint charter with Unite the Union Hospitality Branch

In Northern Ireland ROSA together with Unite Hospitality in May 2023 launched a joint charter against sexual harassment in hospitality.

Standing in front of statues of the women workers in Belfast city centre, activists highlighted why this initiative was important: 9 in 10 hospitality workers have experienced harassment and abuse at work.

Precarious contracts, low pay and a reliance on tips makes it even more difficult to challenge abuse from bosses and customers. For women and queer people being harassed on on a night out is a regular occurrence. Please have a read of our charter:

Sexual harassment is a rampant problem in our society today also beyond the hospitality industry. Trade unions have a crucial role to play in taking up these issues within the work place - and this charter is a prime example of rank and file members of trade unions and workers taking the initiative and getting organised in fighting back against one of the biggest issues within the sector. ROSA and Unite Hospitality will be campaigning with this charter over the summer.

Make hospitality safe for staff and customers

From employers we demand:

1) Sexism in the workplace must be challenged!

Hospitality venues should have a zero tolerance approach towards any form of sexual harassment or abuse. Gender norms are embedded in our society and dictate how we are supposed to live our lives including what clothes we wear. Scrap sexist dress codes for customers and staff. This is a concrete measure that will help counteract harmful gender norms which are part of the foundation for sexism, harassment and gender violence.

2) Venues must have clear reporting procedures in place so complaints can be raised easily by staff and customers.

There must be clear pathways for complaints and investigations of incidents from “casual misogyny” to spiking, harassment and assault. Posters to advertise these complaints procedures should be clearly displayed in venues on all main doors, windows, at bars/counters and prominently on venues

websites and social media platforms. Venues requiring e-tickets should circulate copies of these procedures along with confirmation emails and highlight that all customers are expected to treat staff and customers respectfully at all times. Schemes like the “ask for Angela” should be rolled out widely for customers and staff. Customers, staff and management in venues of all sizes should be clear on

reporting procedures and steps to take to ensure immediate safety when required.

3) Don’t leave staff or customers alone and vulnerable

Ensured safe transport home for your staff! No one should feel forced to walk home at night because of the cost or inaccessibility of taxis. For many hospitality workers getting a taxi home would mean losing an hours wage or more - this is therefore not an option for many workers. Especially as the cost of living is soaring, hospitality workers are faced with the unacceptable choice between paying for food, rent, heating or getting home safely! Similarly, venues have a duty to ensure anyone asked

to leave their premises is safe - not left alone with no way home or to contact others. Venues should instead provide spaces for people to access staff help if they are concerned that they have been spiked.

4) Provide free, easily accessed and discrete spiking test kits

These should be easily available throughout venues to ensure customers and staff can access them as required.

5) Implement fair employment contracts now!

Women are more likely to be employed in shift work; low paying and precarious contracts. This makes challenging toxic work environments even more difficult. Casual workers should be placed on permanent contracts with guaranteed weekly hours. Too often workers on precarious contracts are forced to rely on bosses for hours and wages.

6) Real living wages for all hospitality workers

No one should have to endure creepy customers for tips to subsidise meager wages. Increase the minimum wage for workers of all ages to £15/hour!

7) Ensure fair rotas!

Give workers at least 2 weeks notice of their rotas and ensure rotas are drawn up with the input and oversight of workers. Workers should not have to rely on bosses allocating hours or more suitable shifts as this constitutes additional barriers to challenging sexist bosses! Fair rotas and advance notice is particularly important for workers with child care responsibilities.

8) Union led health and safety training to deal with sexual harassment

Roll out training to equip workers with knowledge of how to address sexual harassment in the workplace. Robust anti-sexual harassment training should be provided by the Union - not profit driven bosses willing to bypass procedures and silence whistle-blowing and organising around the issue. Help Unite Hospitality & ROSA fight for the implementation of this charter! Get in touch with us today.

Get organised!

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