Cafe worker’s union to tackle sexual harassment in bars, restaurants
Many workers in the catering industry regularly have to put up with sexual harassment from customers. FNV Horeca has proposed starting a hotline for workers to report, according to AT5.
Brechje Bevers, who worked from age 19 to 23 at a bar in Amsterdam, is all too familiar with this type of behavior. When she was cleaning up glasses in the bar, for instance: "I asked a guy if I could pass and then he turned around and squeezed my tits," she recalled in an interview with AT5. "I realized that I've hardly ever experienced feeling so pushed into a corner."
The sexual harassment could range from an inappropriate comment to a slap on the bottom to something more violent, like what Bevers experienced. Bevers said it could happen every night and her colleagues experienced it too.
"It is an open topic. Unwanted behavior and sexual intimidation are not always recognized and acknowledged," said Edwin Vlek of FNV Horeca.
Although catering staff can report such incidents to their supervisors, or contact a health and safety doctor, they have no centralized hotline to share their experiences. Larger bars and restaurants have to appoint a confidential advisor, while the Sexual Violence Center can get employees in touch with therapists.
But Vlek told AT5 this is not enough, in his opinion. There is a power dynamic in the industry that makes reporting more difficult for victims, he said. FNV Horeca itself has received dozens of reports within the past year from both men and women.
People are divided on whether the proposed hotline would be helpful. "I would be more in favor of a mandatory confidential counselor within the catering industry, who must then report this," Bevers suggested.