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Stand up: ‘Harassment at workplace harms workers, organisation’

FAISALABAD: The government must enforce the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010 and initiate drives to raise awareness about this law, speakers at a session organised by the Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM) said on Thursday.

The session was held as part of the AWAM’s project to raise awareness regarding labour laws and protection from harassment among women workers. The project, Protection against Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace, has been launched as part of the AWAM’s Gender Equity Programme.

The event was organised to discuss the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010 and suggest ways to provide a dignified environment for working women. The participants of the session included owners of several factories and brick kilns, trade unionists and representatives of civil society organisations.

Speakers at the event urged implementation watch committee to be active and to hold regular meetings.

Sitara Textile Limited Faisalabad HR and Admin Officer Muhammad Shahid said, “We have 150 women workers at Sitara Textiles. We provide reliable day care centres, health facilities, marriage and death grants, social security and Employees Old-Age Benefit (EOBI), and free transport facility.” He said his organisation had tried to facilitate its women workers and aimed to offer them a stress-free environment. He said they also had a trade union. “Sexual harassment at the workplace is harmful and destructive for workers and the business. The need to establish harassment committees at work places cannot be stressed too much.”

Shazia George of the AWAM said, “We are lucky to have a comprehensive law that offers women protection from harassment. Unfortunately the law has not been implemented in its true spirit.”

She said most women workers faced harassment at the workplace. “However, many of them are not aware of how the law offers them security and protection.”

She said it was necessary for the implementation watch committees to stay active.

Trade unionist Arif Ayaz said, “Under the law, it is the responsibility of owners, employers and administrators to establish three-member inquiry committees comprising a woman and two men at workplaces.”

He said it was equally important to ensure that the committees were impartial. The code of conduct under the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010 must be displayed at every workplace, he said.

“The government must monitor organisations and institutions that do not adopt the code of conduct at their workplace.” He suggested that they be fined Rs100,000.

Abdul Razaq Bajwa, owner of a brick kiln, said there was a need to raise awareness and to educate women workers about laws against harassment. “They must be aware of the modes of redress.”

Express Tribune