Earlier this month we made the announcement that a limited number of Pink Shirts were available for members to join in our collective effort to spread the message that “Bullying Is Not Ok”.
On February 23, UFCW Local 247 was proud to see the show of solidarity shared by our union members during the anti-bullying campaign. Pictures were shared on our social media stories throughout the day, everyone did their part and took the time to spread this important message on Pink Shirt Day. Part of this campaign included a Bullying and Harassment course for shop stewards to get a better understanding of existing legislation and steps to follow. The one-day campaign may be over now, but our commitment to take a stand against bullying must continue and go beyond February 23.
In case you didn’t know, here’s how Pink Shirt Day started:
In 2007, David Shepherd, Travis Price and their teenage friends organized a high-school protest in support of a Grade 9 boy who was being bullied for wearing a pink shirt on the first day of school. This group of friends from Nova Scotia took a stand against bullying by distributing 50 pink T-shirts to peers in their school. This sent a clear message that the young student was not alone and the bullies were never heard from again. A year later, Canada declared the last Wednesday of February Anti-Bullying Day, which is now commonly known as Pink Shirt Day.
Sadly, many types of bullying continue to exist to this day, not only in schools, but in our workplaces and communities overall.
Did you know that workplace bullying is covered under our Provincial Workers Compensation act?
This means that Employers, Supervisors and Workers all have the responsibility to not engage in bullying, apply and comply with anti-bullying policies/procedures, as well as report and investigate incidents.
Highlighted below is a summary of important points covered under WorkSafeBC. The entire regulation can be viewed here.
"Bullying and Harassment" is defined in the Policy as including "any inappropriate conduct or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or reasonably ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated, but excludes any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the place of employment."
There are a number of elements in the definition, which are described below.
"Conduct or comment"
The use of these two terms is intended to indicate that a broad spectrum of behaviour is captured in the definition. It includes not just words, but actions, gestures and other behaviours.
Examples of conduct or comment that might constitute bullying and harassment include, but are not limited to, the following:
-Verbal aggression or insults; calling someone derogatory names
-Vandalizing a worker's belongings or work equipment
-Sabotaging a person's work
-Spreading malicious gossip or rumours about a person
-Engaging in harmful or offensive initiation practices
-Physical assault or threats (this would also constitute "violence" or "improper activity or behaviour")
-Making personal attacks based on someone's private life and/or personal traits
-Making aggressive or threatening gestures
-Engaging in targeted social isolation
While a number of these examples will involve overt or easily observable behaviours, bullying and harassment can also include more subtle and less obvious conduct or comment. Whether any conduct or comment will constitute bullying and harassment will depend on the context, and whether the individual engaging in the conduct or comment knew or reasonably ought to have known that the worker subject to it would be humiliated or intimidated.
Reasonable Steps to Address the Hazard:
WorkSafeBC considers that reasonable steps by an employer to prevent where possible, or otherwise minimize, workplace bullying and harassment include the following:
(a) developing a policy statement with respect to workplace bullying and harassment not being acceptable or tolerated;
(b) taking steps to prevent where possible, or otherwise minimize, workplace bullying and harassment;
(c) developing and implementing procedures for workers to report incidents or complaints of workplace bullying and harassment including how, when and to whom a worker should report incidents or complaints. Included must be procedures for a worker to report if the employer, supervisor or person acting on behalf of the employer, is the alleged bully and harasser;
(d) developing and implementing procedures for how the employer will deal with incidents or complaints of workplace bullying and harassment including:
i. how and when investigations will be conducted;
ii. what will be included in the investigation;
iii. roles and responsibilities of employers, supervisors, workers and others;
iv. follow-up to the investigation (description of corrective actions, timeframe, dealing with adverse symptoms, etc.); and
v. record keeping requirements;
(e) informing workers of the policy statement in (a) and the steps taken in (b);
(f) training supervisors and workers on:
i. recognizing the potential for bullying and harassment;
ii. responding to bullying and harassment; and
iii. procedures for reporting, and how the employer will deal with incidents or complaints of bullying and harassment in (c) and (d) respectively;
(g) annually reviewing (a), (b), (c), and (d);
(h) not engaging in bullying and harassment of workers and supervisors; and
(i) applying and complying with the employer's policies and procedures on bullying and harassment.
Members are asked to become familiar with their workplace policy regarding bullying and harassment. Everyone should be aware of the steps to follow when facing bullying at work. If there is no policy in place, then WorkSafeBC should be notified. If the policy is in place and you have followed the steps without resolution, please contact your union representative for assistance. Bullying is an Occupational Health and Safety issue that should also be brought to the attention of the Health and Safety Committee in your workplace
Bullying is NOT OK and should not be part of anybody’s job!
We ask our members to continue helping us build awareness on this important issue and report incidences as they happen. Also, we remind you that resources are available for anyone struggling with their mental health, a list can be found here.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Anti-Bullying Pink Shirt Campaign!