MoveUP – COVID-19 harassment and abuse survey findings

September 8, 2020

To: All MoveUP members

We want to thank all of our members who took the time to fill out our recent survey looking into cases of harassment and abuse from the public, external customers or contractors while on the job since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This information was important for us because we wanted to track whether or not these occurrences were happening across all of our workplaces, if there were certain areas where we were noticing trends, but also what steps have been taken to prevent or mitigate these in the future.

Over 1700 members took part in the survey, providing us with a very good base of information to go with. For those who indicated they would be open to following up with us and provided their contact information, our vice-presidents will do their best to reach out to you over the next several weeks.

While we understand that being in a pandemic situation is stressful for many, we want to remind all our members that harassment or abusive behaviour towards you or your colleagues should never be acceptable under any circumstances.

The majority of those who filled out the survey indicated they did not report these incidents and felt uncomfortable with doing so. We want to remind everyone that our union and its representatives will always be available to listen to your concerns, and if you are faced with abuse or harassment on the job to report that you can report it to a job steward, union representative, or to your Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee.

As you will see from the survey results below, the group that reported cases of harassment and abuse the highest also had the highest level of satisfaction that their concerns were taken seriously.

Survey Results

75% of members surveyed indicated they regularly deal with the public, external customers, or contractors as part of their job.

  • This was highest amongst our members working in the finance-insurance industry (excluding ICBC) at 97%. This was lowest amongst our members working at BC Hydro & Powertech at 58%.

Less than 30% of surveyed said they experienced some form of harassment (verbal/physical/racial) since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Harassment was highest within the finance-insurance group at over 80%.
  • Members working in public transit (approx. 60%) and at ICBC (approx. 50%) had the next highest levels of harassment reported.
  • Members working in the labour group and the shipping-transport group reported the least levels of harassment (less than 20%), followed by members at FortisBC (less than 27%) and BC Hydro & Powertech (less than 30%).

Verbal threats and abuse ranked as the most common method of harassment, followed by harassment over a COVID-related issue. Harassment related to racial issues was the highest among the public transit group.

When asked specifically what issues related to COVID-19 generated the most level of harassment, the primary reason chosen was related to service changes / delays / cancellations (approx. 75%) followed by new rules and regulations in place (approx. 60%).

  • Just over 30% overall indicated that wearing a mask / refusal to wear a mask led to a harassment issue.
  • Just over 50% indicated that physical distancing rules led to a harassment issue.

Just under one-quarter of respondents say they have witnessed co-workers being harassed by the public.

  • This was particularly notable for members at ICBC, in public transit, and in finance-insurance, but low among all other groups (BC Hydro & Powertech, FortisBC, labour, and shipping-transport)

Among members who either faced or witnessed harassment or abuse, over 60% say they did not report it

  • Most of those who reported it did so to a supervisor/manager, with less than 10% overall reporting to either a job steward/union representative or to their Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee
  • 50% of members felt their concerns were not taken seriously
  • The finance-insurance group was the only area where reporting abuse was common (77%). Over 70% of those members also felt their concerns were taken seriously

In solidarity,

David Black, President
Lori Mayhew, Secretary-Treasurer
Christy Slusarenko, Vice-President, Combined Units
Rysa Kronebusch, Vice-President, Utilities
Annette Toth, Vice-President, ICBC

File Number: 20-MoveUP-Harassment Survey Results-Sept 8
Union Label: kc USW 2009


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