NUPW eye on workplace violence

During her first week on the job, Natalie Murray was requested by her employer to work on the weekend. Not suspecting anything, she went to work; but later had to defend herself after being groped by her boss.

She fought back.

Murray, now a member of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), told her story during a symposium held by the union today in observance of the United Nations Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women. She told the meeting that the union would soon undertake a survey to determine just how widespread the problem of workplace violence was in Barbados.

From right, panellists Natalie Murray, Dr Maisha Emmanuel, Karen Ring, Joy-Ann Inniss, Nalita Gajadhar and Frank DaSilva.
From right, panellists Natalie Murray, Dr Maisha Emmanuel, Karen Ring, Joy-Ann Inniss, Nalita Gajadhar and Frank DaSilva.

“We want to investigate the prevalence of workplace violence in our society; so we have constructed a survey and we will be going into the Government departments shortly for individuals to fill out this survey so we can [check] the prevalence of violence,” Murray said.

“We don’t just want to go on our reported cases. Yes, we have quantitative data at the union, but we want evidence-based information. We want when we go out there and we say to the Government of Barbados that there’s a problem with workplace violence, they would not say that’s just a perceived notion. We want evidence to support our course of action.”

The NUPW representative said certain areas were a “hotbed for violence”, among them Social Services, Health, Immigration and Prison Services.

Meanwhile, psychotherapist and former University of the West Indies lecturer Karen Ring said there appeared to be a lack of understanding by the courts about domestic violence and violence in the workplace.

Karen Ring
Karen Ring

“Even though we talk a good game politically about policies, we usually don’t have any money to . . . make sure that the policies are followed. It’s like, ‘Let’s put it on the books’; but we don’t have any money to police it or make sure that doesn’t happen,” said Ring, another panellist.

“We have the court system that also can drag its feet. We have a system where the criminal justice system, along with the political system, will say that we have some issues, but many of the judges don’t understand what’s going in the workplace or even understand domestic violence, although many people have been doing a good job here of trying to make that more public.”

She added that the media also perpetuated violence through the type of music that they promoted.

The symposium was attended by a diverse group of people, including students from the Princess Margaret Secondary School and the Barbados Youth Service.

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