Union members working in federal parliament demand protection, respect at work

March 25, 2021
Brisbane March4Justice. Photo: Alex Bainbridge

On March 24, Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members presented Australian Council of Trade Union (ACTU) President Michele O’Neil and CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly with a letter outlining their demands for greater workplace safety and respect.

“We deserve to be safe and respected in our workplace,” the letter said. “The revelations of widespread gendered violence of the last month have been deeply disturbing. Further, the letter said that “workplaces have significant power imbalances which, at times, allows bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault to fester and go unpunished.

“We are workers and, like all workers, we deserve to be safe at work.”

The open letter calls for:

• An independent and confidential complaints process, which is victim-centric, and ensures there are consequences for poor behaviour;

• A safe workplace that guarantees workers workplace health and safety rights, that includes mandatory training for MPs and staff, safe reporting mechanisms and data reporting to workplace health and safety committees or equivalent;

• For gendered violence and sexual harassment mitigation strategies in enterprise agreements in both houses of parliament as well as other departments;

• For specialised and ongoing support services for all workers in parliamentary workplaces; and

• The immediate implementation of the 55 recommendations of the Respect@Work report.

O’Neil said: “The Morrison government has been dragged to the realisation that the workplace culture in Parliament House is toxic and dangerous, especially to women. This is not news to workers who go to work every day in a high-risk workplace where sexism is rife, sexual harassment is common and sexual assaults are alleged to have happened.

“These demands if met would provide clear and confidential reporting lines, consequences for actions, training, support and obligations to mitigate risk. It also asks the Morrison government to implement the recommendations of its own report into sexual harassment in the workplace, which has been sitting in a drawer in Christian Porter’s office for more than a year.

“The entire union movement stands with these workers who are fighting to make their workplace safer. It is past the time for the Morrison government to act.”

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