New working group to address workplace conflict, harassment

New working group to address workplace conflict and harassment

By Simone Dowhanik,
MARLANT Safety & Environment

The RCN knows that a respectful and open work environment is important for everyone to do their job well. With this in mind, our bicoastal Navy communities at MARLANT (Halifax) and MARPAC (Esquimalt) have joined forces to promote a safe working environment for all employees, free from conflict and harassment.

Both Formations’ Health Safety and Environment Policy Committees have jointly created a Workplace Violence Prevention Working Group (WVP WG), co-chaired by management and labour with representation from both coasts. The WVP WG objectives are to foster the reduction of uncivil behaviour within the RCN; enhance awareness of workplace violence; promote prevention programs; improve data capture and analytics; as well as increase the availability of qualified harassment and violence investigators within the RCN.

The first meeting of the WVP WG took place in February 2020, the month during which MARLANT and MARPAC recognize Pink Shirt Day, also known as Anti-Bullying Day. This global day of education and awareness encourages people to promote workplace civility while rejecting hostility and conflict. This year, Pink Shirt Day will be celebrated on Wednesday, February 26. CFB Halifax/MARLANT will incorporate a “Be Kind” theme into its awareness campaign, during which all local Defence Team members are encouraged to wear pink. By wearing pink, members will not only visually show support for this awareness day, but will also be reminded to reflect on things that can be done within the workplace and within ourselves to limit incidents of workplace bullying and promote a healthy work environment.

MARLANT acknowledges that respectful workplaces are critical to cultivating inclusivity and teamwork. In conjunction with MARPAC, MARLANT is looking to make the necessary amendments to current workplace violence prevention policies and procedures to address changes to the Canada Labour Code as a result of Bill C-65. This bill stipulates that organizations must prevent, respond to and support employees affected by workplace violence. In order to make effective changes, labour and management representatives will come together to improve our programs with the aim of eliminating violence and harassment in the workplace.

Richard Cashin, President of the Federal Government Dockyard Charter Association and Kyle Penney, FMF Cape Scott’s Safety and Environment Manager, are two of the people volunteering time and expertise as members of the WVP WG. Cashin will use his personal experiences to assist the group in developing a comprehensive strategy, and Penney hopes that the work of the group will result in positive outcomes for all involved.

“By voicing concerns and issues about violence in the workplace, we hope the working group will allow a better understanding of the managing process of violence in the workplace and ensure better resolutions for those affected,” explains Penney.

A culture of civility and respect is crucial to successful operational effectiveness and the general wellbeing of Defence Team members; therefore, the newly created WVP WG will look to implement measures that ensure safe working conditions for all employees. The WVP WG is confident that its efforts will lead to recommended changes that will improve workplace culture in such a way that everyone feels safe, included, and valued.

For more information on the WVP WG, please contact MARLANT Safety and Environment at 902-427-1571.

On Wednesday, February 26, join CFB Halifax/MARLANT for a special Pink Shirt Day in support of bullying prevention in our community. On February 24, 25 and 26 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., pink t-shirts will be sold at HMC Dockyard (FMF Cape Scott and MARLANT HQ), Stadacona (S90), Willow Park (WL 57) and 12 Wing Shearwater (location TBC) for $5. Shirts will be available in medium, large and XL sizes while quantities last.

For CAF members who would like to wear their own pink shirts on February 26, the $2 Dress with a Difference fee will be in effect. This fee will be waived for CAF members who purchase a t-shirt. Civilian Defence Team members are encouraged to purchase a pink shirt or wear their own in support of this important cause. Proceeds from each $5 t-shirt purchased will be donated to two local organizations: LOVE (Nova Scotia) and The Youth Project.