B.C. waterfront workers to receive anti-harassment, anti-violence training

by The Canadian Press (CPSTF) & Inside Logistics Staff

A violence and harassment prevention training program aims to shift what has traditionally been the white, male-dominated culture of British Columbia’s waterfront workplaces.

Federal Labour Minister Filomena Tassi says the BC Maritime Employers Association, International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Ending Violence Association of BC have created a program to benefit 10,000 employees in ports along the B.C. coast.

A statement from Employment and Social Development Canada says the program is backed by a portion of $3.9 million in federal funding and provides training and education to support safer, more respectful workplaces, including for LGBTQ and Indigenous communities.

B.C. waterfront employees

The educational program will help the B.C. waterfront workplaces, which are federally regulated, comply with the harassment and violence prevention legislation (Bill C-65) and supporting regulations, which came into force on January 1, 2021. The legislation takes all forms of harassment and violence into consideration and requires employers in federally regulated workplaces to have procedures in place to prevent and respond to incidents of harassment and violence.

The ILWU Canada represents more than 6,000 men and women throughout B.C. The ILWU Canada Longshore Division is involved in the loading, unloading and checking of cargo to and from vessels and the storage of these goods on the docks and in warehouses.

Rob Ashton, the union’s president, says the first-of-its-kind initiative underway on B.C.’s waterfront is not designed to “weaponize” anti-harassment training through discipline, although the program will have measures to encourage compliance.

Instead, he says it is based on the “Be More than a Bystander” campaign developed by the Ending Violence Association and will “start the healing” by changing a culture that Ashton says divided waterfront work along racial lines as far back as the late 1800s.

Tracy Porteous with the Ending Violence Association of BC says her group’s bystander campaign is a good fit for waterfront workers because it will add the “voices and committed interventions by men” to those of women and minorities already speaking up against workplace violence and harassment.