MINISTER of Labour and Small Enterprise Development Jennifer Baptiste-Primus has pledged to enact a law that outlaws sexual harassment in the workplace.
Baptiste-Primus was speaking during the Tobago National Stakeholder Consultation on the Draft National Workplace Policy on Sexual Harassment at the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort on Friday. The consulation was aimed at discussing a draft national workplace policy on sexual harassment.
The consultation was a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Labour and the THA's Division of Community Development, Enterprise Development and Labour, which seeks to prevent and prohibit sexual harassment at all levels in the workplace in Trinidad and Tobago.
In her comments, the minister described sexual harassment as a "very delicate issue" which if not clinically, objectively and unemotionally debated can result in unwelcome repercussions.
I TOO WAS HARRASSED
She went further, recalling her very own experience as a young public service employee, stating that like many other women she had to deal with the issue of sexual harassment at work. However, undeterred, she fought for her rights and was successful.
Baptiste-Primus noted that the consultation is significant as it also seeks to develop a social construct to change and expand the scope of the industrial relations framework in TT and is geared toward treating with, as far as is reasonably practicable, promotion of ethical workplace practices, thereby eliminating sexual harassment.
“I have worked with men most of my life, so I understand that dynamics and therefore any situation in the workplace that brings you, whether you are a male or female a level of discomfort, you must voice your sense of discomfort.
"The occupation of your space brings a sense of discomfort. It is not easy to work under those conditions; it affects you mentally, it affects your levels of productivity, it affects your self-esteem, it affects your very way of abrading,” she said.
LAWS MUST BE ENACTED
Stating that currently there is no standalone legislation which addresses sexual harassment, the minister said that separate laws, including case law, is applied to sexual harassment cases or to offer redress to a person who is victimised.
With that, Minister Baptiste-Primus stressed the importance of adequate legislation to address workplace sexual harassment to give justice to all its victims.
“There is absolutely no doubt that the time has come for us to put our collective house in order, and in doing so the involvement of the leadership trade union movement must not be undervalued. I give you the assurance that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago through the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development stands ready to debate and enact legislations outlawing sexual harassment in the workplace and to establish protocols for employers and employees to adapt and to upkeep,” Baptiste-Primus said.