National President’s Column

Whether they’re bus drivers, education assistants, flight attendants, nurses, or tax clerks, a growing number of CUPE members have something in common: violence in the workplace has affected them or one of their colleagues.

Violence in the workplace is an ongoing and serious problem for CUPE members and workers across Canada. But governments and employers have been too slow to act, and even worse, many employers have tried to condition their employees to accept workplace violence. Let me be clear: violence takes many forms, but none of them are acceptable, and none of them are “just part of the job.”

Nationwide, CUPE activists have been working hard to curb this growing problem—and to answer this national crisis, CUPE will be supporting and building on the work already being done with a national response on violence in the workplace.

In the coming months, we’re going to ensure that existing tools, like our workplace violence kit, are widely promoted and put into the hands of members who need it most.

We’re going to focus on preventing and addressing workplace violence at all levels and in all its forms— including verbal abuse and minor aggressions. We’re going to make sure members know their rights and report all incidents of violence, no matter how big or small they may seem.

We’re going to provide you with posters, buttons and stickers to help raise the profile of the issue with your members, and we will expand our reach with social media. We’re going to highlight our success stories, to share ideas on how your local can tackle violence in a meaningful way.

We’ll identify gaps in legislation and regulations and push our politicians and governments from coast to coast to change the laws to make workplaces safer for everyone.

And finally, we’ll focus on the common root causes of increased violence in the workplace, including underfunding of much-needed public services for vulnerable people, and job cuts that leave our members working short-staffed or working alone.

Everyone has the right to feel safe at their job, and I consider it one of our fundamental duties as a union to protect our members when they go to work.

As Canada’s largest union, it’s our job to empower our members in the face of workplace violence, and to force employers and governments across Canada to address it.

Because violence is not part of the job. Ever.