Gantry cranes used to load and unload container ships at the DP World terminal at port, in Vancouver, on Monday, December 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Gantry cranes used to load and unload container ships at the DP World terminal at port, in Vancouver, on Monday, December 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

10,000 B.C. longshoremen, warehouse workers to receive anti-harassment training

Campaign seeks to change a work culture divided along racial lines since the late 1800s: union president

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.

Rob Ashton, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, 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.

READ MORE: New program offers free legal advice to victims of workplace sexual harassment in B.C.

British Columbiaworkplace harassment