Organized Labour Supports Victims of Violence Against Women

xigMn8yiA-2Charlottetown – As the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women draws near. CUPE PEI joins with other labour and community organizations to support victims of gender-based violence and renew efforts to end gender inequality, as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women draws near, CUPE PEI joins with other labour and community organizations to support victims of gender-based violence and renew efforts to end gender inequality.

“As we observe this sad anniversary year after year, we are painfully reminded that violence against women is still widespread in our communities”, says Lori MacKay, President of CUPE PEI. “We honour the memory of the 14 young women murdered at the University of Montreal’s engineering school on December 6, 1989. We also remember the Island women and our sisters throughout Canada who continue to lose their lives or suffer injuries, often at the hands of their intimate partners.”

“On this day, we also renew our efforts to end violence against women. ‘First mourn. Then Work for change.’ That’s the call to action inscribed on the December 6th monument in Summerside, a memorial funded by union members through the PEI Federation of Labour”.

“Violence at home affects women in the workplace” notes Donna Dingwell, CUPE PEI representative of municipal workers and vice-president for women at the PEI Federation of Labour. “Last year’s ground-breaking survey by the Canadian Labour Congress and the University of Western Ontario revealed that about one-third of respondents had experienced domestic violence and that it followed many of them to work, through harassing emails, calls, texts or stalking and physical violence. This negatively affected their work performance. Some even quit or lost their jobs.”

“Research shows that women who have suffered from domestic violence are more like to be in casual and part-time work and to change jobs more often than women with no experience of violence”, adds Dingwell. “Employers also pay a price if they have to hire and train new employees”.
The labour movement is working to improve support for victims of violence inside and outside the workplace. CUPE National recently published a bargaining guide that explains how domestic violence affects the workplace and how the union can negotiate protections, with contract language examples and a checklist for workplace policies. CUPE National is also working with the CLC and sister unions to advocate for stronger laws on workplace violence, including domestic violence. Earlier this year, CUPE National helped the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses launch an online resource with a clickable map for women and children escaping domestic violence.

“What the labour movement wants for our members, we want for everyone”, concludes MacKay. “We applaud the Premier of Manitoba’s recent commitment to provide paid leave for victims of domestic violence. Proposed changes to employment standards legislation would ensure that all workers under provincial jurisdiction have this entitlement.”