How to step up the protection and compensation of victims of third-party violence and harassment?


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On 4 March 2022, ETUCE member organisations and other social partners from seven  sectors met online to discuss the protection and compensation of victims of violence and harassment at the workplace.

The event, chaired by ETUCE, hosted over 90 participants and was organised in the framework of the multi-sectoral social dialogue project “The role of social partners in preventing third-party violence and harassment at work” led by the EPSU in partnership with ETUCE, CEMR, HOSPEEM, CESI, EUPAE, ETF, UITP, and ETNO. The aim of the project is a cooperative discussion on the role of social partners in preventing third-party violence and harassment at work and to elaborate on possible improvements of the Multi-sectoral Guidelines to tackle third-party violence and harassment at work (2011).

After an introduction by the project researcher, Dr Jane Pillinger, who presented the project research findings and European and international provisions on victim support and compensation, good practices from across different sectors were showcased. Dr Alessandra Menelao (UIL, Italy) highlighted a multi-sectoral trade union initiative consisting of helpdesks against all types of violence. The initiative is spread on the entire national territory and aims to support all victims of violence and harassment through legal assistance, psychological, and trade union support. The intervention process is guided by a psychologist and designed to be fully non-judgemental and secure for the victim.

The findings of the initiative alarmingly revealed that 86% of cases based on physical violence are brought forward by women. This is particularly concerning for the education sector, as it is a highly feminised profession. In addressing the matter of gender equality, Rossella Benedetti, Chair of the ETUCE Standing Committee for Equality, highlighted the importance of addressing gender-based violence and harassment from an occupational health safety perspective.

Two presentations from the transport sector on the national and European level by Kremena Dimitrova, (FTTUB, Bulgaria) and Brigitte Ollier (UITP) revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in third-party violence, especially for public transport. In this regard, continuous civil dialogue and coordination with authorities were identified as key measures to prevent third-party violence. In both cases, collective agreements proved beneficial for the protection and compensation of victims.

A case study of lobby action in the education sector was featured by Yordan Krasev (SEB, Bulgaria). Education trade union initiatives in Bulgaria were able to influence the Penal Code so that every act of violence against teachers is considered an attack. This allows for a proper prosecution of perpetrators and has already led to a drastic decline in cases of violence against teachers.

Participants in the webinar emphasised that it is important to create more awareness of the Multi-sectoral Guidelines and a potential revision should focus on the prevention of violence. However, when violence occurs a quick action and adequate compensation as well as holistic support, including psychological, legal, and social partner assistance, becomes crucial.

What’s next? The upcoming instalments of the project will feature separate trade union and employer discussions and a greater focus on specific sectoral challenges.

Read more:

How to prevent and combat gender-based violence in the education sector?