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Racial Harassment

16 January 2010

unhappy black man

The CWU is committed to a positive policy of opposition to racial harassment and racial discrimination.

Racial harassment is a breach of union rules to racially harass and we have negotiated agreements with the employers of most of our members which cover racial harassment.

It divides workers and can lead to exploitation by the employer.

The CWU is committed to ensuring that all members can live and work in an environment free from racial prejudice and harassment.

What Is Harassment?

Racial harassment takes many forms including:

  • Verbal and written harassment - jokes, language and slander. (e.g. jokes that attribute impressions of stupidity, sexual prowess, or hygiene to specific ethnic groups).
  • Visual harassment - graffiti, posters etc.
  • Physical harassment - ranging from touching to serious assault.
  • Isolation, non co-operation and exclusion.
  • Coercion and intrusive behaviour.

Racial harassment arises from prejudice and discrimination against an individuals' race, ethnic origin, nationality or religion. It portrays people not as individuals, but as having imaginary traits or deficiencies as a whole group.

The effects of Harassment

  • Self esteem and confidence diminish.
  • Health can be adversely affected.
  • Home life and family can be affected.
  • Work performance may be affected, leading to possible discipline, downgrading or even dismissal.

What is the employers policy?

The majority of our members are covered by specific harassment procedures. These procedures state that harassment will not be tolerated and may be treated as a disciplinary offence that could lead to dismissal.

It is important that members should feel that they can be protected from harassment and discrimination.

The view of the Union

The CWU has issued advice to its representatives that members complaints must be treated seriously. All Union representatives have been reminded that they have an obligation under Union rules to treat harassment cases seriously.

If I experience Racial Harassment, what should I do?

Report the problem to your Union representative, Branch Secretary or Equality Officer. They will help you raise your problem with line management.

Do I still have the right to go to an Industrial Tribunal?

If you have been discriminated against, you can take your employer and/or an individual harasser who you work with or work for to an Industrial Tribunal. It is important to try the internal procedure first. Your claim must be submitted within three months of the incident complained of.

If you are offended or harmed:

  • You are not to blame
  • You have a right to complain
  • You have a right to have it stopped

Racial harassment is a trade union issue. It directly affects the working conditions and daily lives of all of our members. Discrimination and harassment of any CWU member divides and ultimately weakens the whole union.