Violence a no-no in the workplace

AN article highlighted in the press recently, has suggested that it is time that local employers equip themselves to deal with the possible increase in levels of violence in the workplace.

Yvonne Hall, President of the Barbados Employers’ Confederation (BEC), pointed to the upsurge in violent crime, especially gun-related crime, which is now of major concern and further suggested that violence at the level of the workplace could come about as a spill-over effect from the level of violence being witnessed in the society. She therefore cautioned business owners and employers to be on their guard.

“We seem to be faced with a more aggressive society, which when coupled with the harsh economic realities faced by Barbadians, could lead to increased workplace violence, including an increase in robberies. Whilst it has been reported by police that major crime overall declined in 2019, the level of violence in society is still of significant concern as it affects people from all walks of life in our society and by extension, the perception of our tourism product. Therefore, employers and business owners must ensure they are equipped to deal with the eventuality and possible increase in violence in the workplace,” the BEC President maintained.

Hall later stated that with the upsurge in violent crimes and the International Labour Organisation’s adoption of the new Violence and Harassment Convention, those at the helm of the BEC thought it an opportune time for the business community to evaluate the effect of violence in the world of work and discuss mitigating strategies, and hence their recent “Violence in the Workplace” seminar.

It appears that the BEC is trying to be proactive in this matter and this is a plus. Indeed, we must send the message that violence in the workplace is a no-no and will not be tolerated. We meanwhile cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend that violence will not touch us in the environment in which we work, as we have already seen a few incidents where persons have either come to blows whilst at work or issues of domestic violence have found their way to employers’ doorsteps.

Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, is meanwhile on record as stating that the Barbados Government is committed to combating the scourge of violence and harassment in the workplace and in the wider world of work. He too encouraged local employers to follow suit.

Stressing that businesses cannot be sustainable, competitive and profitable if workers are affected by workplace violence and harassment, he noted that violence and harassment in the workplace or in the wider world of work has the potential to affect a person’s psychological, physical or sexual health, dignity and family, and social environment. Indeed, as he pointed out, productivity can also be affected.

“It can actually decrease worker engagement, contribute to a hostile work environment, increase the level of absenteeism and worker turnover, and lead to a poor public image for the employing organisation,” Minister Jordan said.

Making mention of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Violence and Harassment Convention (No. 190), Jordan too has signalled that the whole issue of violence in the workplace will be getting some of Government’s attention. This is a step in the right direction.

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