Costa Rica, UNATROPYT: Interview with Yamilette Cerdas Barquero for International Women's Day

08 March 2017 10:51

Yamilette Cerdas Barquero, UNATROPYT, Costa Rica

Our union created a special women's commission in the preparatory stage of its first collective agreement that addresses sexual harrasment

Yamilette is a trade union leader, former worker of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport of Costa Rica (MOPT) and affiliated to the National Union of Public Works and Transport Workers, UNATROPYT. 

Is gender-based violence at work a priority of your union organization? Why?

The union has always considered issues of gender equity and respect for women in a very high priority. Given that our Board of Directors has 50% of national positions on women hands, it is possible to address timely all kind of issues related to gender-based violence (among other women issues at the workplace). The union has always had the openness to allow women to have a voice within the union and perform in the best way their work and their personal life. 

How can we approach gender-based violence so that it becomes a subject of interest at your union?

I believe that every union should develop campaigns so that women can, not only be part of the organization, but also feel that the union is a strategic ally in the fight against gender-based violence at the workplace. It is just as important that trade unions visit workplaces, seek out and speak to women affiliates so they get to know the daily problems of women in the field. 

Gender-based violence at workplace and in private life is a health problem. Do you consider that your affiliates are properly informed on how to deal with this problem?

All women have the ability to do their work and improve every day, but gender-based violence at the workplace limits that ability since this kind of violence affects not only labor life, but also personal life. Unfortunately, not all women are aware of how gender-based violence affects their lives, and therefore, not all women are adequately informed to address this issue. The union must be the organization that provides that kind of information and the support that women need in order to lose their fear and report when necessary. 

How could the union integrate sexual harassment theme into collective bargaining clauses?

UNATROPYT created a special women's commission in the preparatory stage of its first Collective Agreement. This commission has the purpose of allowing women affiliated to UNATROPYT to make their own contributions to the proposed Collective Agreement. The commission addressed the issue of sexual harassment at the workplace and the ways in which the union should act in benefit of its affiliates. These proposals were included in the final Collective Agreement, which is currently under negotiation. These kinds of practices are useful for women to contribute to this and other issues of common interest. 

What aspects should a plan of action consider in the structures of women in your union?

Training is important so every woman can address her complaint to the appropriate entity. Principally, the Board of Directors of all unions must also be trained in this issue so everyone could speak the “same language”. This is how all plans of action may include the topic of women's advocacy and the fight against gender-based violence effectively. 

Interview made by: Flor Soto Cordero, Secretary of Gender Affairs of UNATROPYT