Union calls for end to workplace bullying in NWT

Union calls for end to workplace bullying in NWT
Photo: PSAC North.

Union representatives joined the array of voices calling for an end to bullying last Wednesday on Pink Shirt Day, the national day to end bullying in schools and society.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) stood with school children, municipal and territorial government representatives and members of the public in Yellowknife on Wednesday morning, bringing forward its agenda to stop workplace bullying.

“There has been a lot of lip service given to anti-bullying initiatives and the need for change, but it’s time for specific, targeted action to ensure that workers and the public are protected. We have outlined what is needed and our area council has offered its assistance to the GNWT so that no more time is wasted,” Julie Docherty, PSAC North regional executive vice president, said in a press release.

At least 40 per cent of all employees are affected by workplace bullying, Docherty said.

Julie Docherty, centre, PSAC North regional executive vice president, celebrates Pink Shirt Day, the national day to end bullying in schools and society with children in Yellowknife last Wednesday. (Photo: PSAC North)

Julie Docherty, centre, PSAC North regional executive vice president, celebrates Pink Shirt Day, the national day to end bullying, with children in Yellowknife last Wednesday. (Photo: PSAC North)

She said more needs to be done at the territorial level to enable people to speak out about bullying happening around them in the work environment.

The union submitted a letter of requests to the minister of Human Resources last week.

“In order to stop workplace bullying, it is essential that GNWT employees can ‘stand by those who are being bullied and report bullying behavior.’ Currently, the GNWT’s interpretation of their Harassment Policy only allows an employee to make a complaint about harassment which has directly occurred to the complainant,” the letter reads.

PSAC is requesting the department of Human Resources upgrade its Safety Act and regulations to match Canada Occupational Health and Safety regulations – the current industry standard – for dealing with harassment, bullying and other forms of workplace violence.

The union is also asking the GNWT to create a new “Violence Prevention Policy” that will allow employees to make complaints about any workplace bullying they are experiencing and/or witnessing.

“Workplaces which do not have policies and procedures for witnesses to report bullying increase the risk for employees who suffer from vicarious trauma,” the letter states. “Vicarious trauma is the process of change that happens when employees care about other people who have been hurt, and feel committed or responsible to help them.”

They have also asked the government to modify its management training program to incorporate a module on workplace bullying so managers can identify its various forms, along with an anti-bullying program for GNWT employees and support programs.

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