ABUSE of women’s rights in the workplace has escalated in the recession, a trade union has claimed.
Unite revealed it is dealing with more cases than ever during the difficult economic times. Regional officer Claire Keane said managers are illegally pressuring expectant mothers, including some who are bullied and sworn at.
“We have a case where a senior employee was told after announcing she was pregnant that she would be replaced by a software programme,” said Ms Keane.
“Another where her ability to work part-time, established over five years, was suddenly withdrawn after she announced her second pregnancy and she was told the position could only be done on a full-time basis,” said Ms Keane.
“Women are being abused in ways that are wholly unacceptable.
“On International Women’s Day we want to spread the word that they do not need to just accept this.
“They have rights, hard- fought for, and they are stronger if they stand together on behalf of their colleagues.”
The union marked the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day by publishing extracts of a complaint filed by a customer service worker in Leinster as evidence of abuse still deemed acceptable by some managers. Unite is considering taking a case to the Equality Tribunal.
The woman, who does not want to be identified for fear of further repercussions, said the first incident happened two weeks after she told her manager she was four months’ pregnant.
She said her manager — who had previously been content to visit once a month — advised he would be visiting more regularly to ensure things were up to standard and asked if she could plan her scans on leave days.
“I replied that as this was my first pregnancy I was unsure about how many scans and was really in the hands of my doctor on that,” she told. “He said this was crazy. Why was it that he had to suffer in his business because I was pregnant.”
The worker said her manager was visibly angry and she started to cry.
“I told him I was worried enough about being pregnant and his reaction was not helping,” she said.
“He shouted back that was none of his concern and that I should not try to blame him if anything went wrong.”
After the woman composed herself, her manager gave her a list of dates she could take holidays on.
“I said that I would have to talk about them with my husband but that I would need the following Monday morning off as I had a doctor’s appointment on that day,” she added.
“He stood up, put his hands on his head and said: ‘Christ. Now I will have to come down again. You have fucked up my next week as well as this week. For God’s sake you have a condition, not a fucking illness.’”