Cable workers sacked for wolf-whistling

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The writing is on the wall for the British workman's wolf-whistle, as political correctness reaches its last frontier - the building site.

In what is probably Britain's least-sexist construction project, the laying of TV and telephone lines in the East Midlands by an Anglo-American cable company, six workmen have been fired for wolf whistling, catcalling or swearing at women.

Diamond Cable Communications plc forbids employees from whistling at women as they walk by - or making suggestive remarks, catcalling, or even working without a shirt. The penalty is the sack.

Gary Davis, Managing Director, said: "Wolf whistling is not something we take lightly. It is intimidating, not just to women but to people on the street generally. It presents the wrong image to our potential clients.

Four of his own workers and two from subcontracting firms had been dismissed for "conduct unbecoming," Mr Davis said - swearing, catcalling and wolf whistling in particular, for which the most recent firing was six weeks ago, involving an employee working for a subcontractor in Nottingham.

"He was wolf whistling at a woman walking by and making the kind of derogatory comments which usually accompany it," said Paul Niles, Diamond's construction director,. .

The Independent Television Commission has licensed the firm to install cable in Nottingham, Grimsby, Cleethorpes, Lincoln, Newark, Grantham, Mansfield and Melton Mowbray. The £320 million project will give half a million homes access to cable TV and telephone lines.

The company, owned by Goldman Sachs the US Investment Bank, makes its employees - 150 construction workers and 200 cable installation workers - sign a contract committing them to the company's code of conduct.

The 400 workers employed by sub-contracted construction firms must also agree to observe the rules of the code.

The Equal Opportunities Commission welcomed the move. "A company that makes clear to its employees that sexual harassment is a serious business should be commended," said a spokesman. "Viewers know that if they pass one of this cable company's workers t hey will not be harassed."

The TUC said that the policy was acceptable, as long as workers were aware of the policy terms and dismissal procedures were fair.

John Huxtable, chief executive of the Confederation of Construction Specialists said he hoped others company would follow the company's lead. "I strongly approve of these rules. In terms of lewd behaviour it is the only way the industry can sort itself out."

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