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15% of workers in Galway's hospitality sector say they have been sexually abused at work

A study of 400 workers revealed how sex abuse and harassment is rife across the city.

Image: Shutterstock/wavebreakmedia

A SURVEY OF nearly 400 workers in the Galway hospitality industry has uncovered a raft of allegations of illegal practices and abuses.

The survey, carried out by former worker Eva Mitchell, Sinn Féin senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and with the help of SIPTU, found that a large number of waiting staff, hotel workers, cleaners and other domestic workers say they have been on the end of serious abuse.

When asked if they had ever been abused at work, the survey found that:

  • Just under 80% had experienced verbal abuse
  • Over 15% had been attacked physically at work
  • 36% had been sexually harassed
  • 15% of staff had been sexually abused
  • Nearly 70% had been underpaid

In one case, a female worker described how her boss would arrive in drunk and told staff they were “useless pieces of s**” as they worked extra hours due to being understaffed.

In another instance, a worker described how she would never complain to management because if she did then she’d get fewer hours the following week.

According to the survey, the main perpetrators of the abuse are managers and owners who account for nearly 85% of the issues, according to the study. The survey also found that 95% of respondents were not in a union.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, organiser Eva Mitchell said while she was not shocked about most of the results, she was horrified about how widespread sexual harassment is in the industry.

Mitchell was also surprised to see how 60% of people did not report the abuse to a senior member of staff. According to the study, some of them said they did not do this as they felt that, if they complained, they would receive fewer work hours the following week.There were also concerns that nothing would be done or that things would not change.

eva mitchell Eva Mitchell Source: TheJournal.ie

“Well, to be honest, I wasn’t entirely shocked by it. I knew it was going on. But what got me was how often it was happening. The incidence rate is quite appalling. That did surprise me,” she said.

“Especially with the zero hours contract, people are in very vulnerable employment. There’s a fear that if you bring anything to the attention of the bosses that nothing will change or worse that you’d have your hours cut.”

Last month, TheJournal.ie ran an investigative piece which dealt with a number of abuses being suffered by staff in hotels and bars across the west with a particular focus on Galway.

Tonight, Eva, along with members of the hospitality sector will meet at a public meeting in Ballybrit, Galway, to talk about the results and what can be done to help those who are suffering in their employment. It is hoped that more people will become aware of their employe rights as a result.

TheJournal.ie currently investigating the problems which affect workers across a myriad of industries nationwide. It is our intention to highlight exploitation within sectors which traditionally are not well-represented by unions. 

If you have been abused or mistreated at work and wish to get in touch, you can do so by emailing workersrights@thejournal.ie

Read: Over 300k belonging to criminal gang discovered in woman’s home following search >

Read: 5,600 enquiries, 20,000 hours of CCTV footage – Garda Adrian Donohoe’s murder is still unsolved >

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