International day for the elimination of violence against women

25 Nov 2015

European trade unionists will mark November 25 – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women – with a pledge to work against violence against women, whether at the workplace or at home, until it is eliminated.

The shocking facts are that

  • One in three women has been a victim of physical and/or sexual violence.
  • Just over one in 10 of those women was assaulted by someone from work – a supervisor, colleague or customer.
  • Up to half of women in European Union countries experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at their workplace.

Trade unions have a track record of action against violence against women, both in the workplace and at home.

Research conducted by the European Trade Union Confederation* shows that

  • The vast majority of trade unions in Europe are involved in tackling violence against women.
  • Action taken includes collective agreements at national, sectoral and company level featuring clauses on dealing with violence against women.
  • Agreements have included obliging employers to develop procedures for dealing with violence, training for managers and employees to identify signs of workplace violence and how to prevent it, and medical and psychological support for employees who are victims of domestic violence.
  • Many trade unions offer legal and other support for members who are victims of violence in the workplace, and in some cases victims of domestic violence.
  • Many trade unions have organised events to discuss violence against women, and taken part in Government initiatives to combat violence against women.    National trade unions have used the 2007 European ‘Framework agreement to prevent, manage and eliminate violence at work’ negotiated and signed by the ETUC and European employers (BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME and CEEP) to press for measures to protect women from violent behaviour.

Luca Visentini, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC): “Violence against women is very widespread, also at the workplace. Trade unions play an important role in combatting violence against women, and will not stop until it is eliminated.”

Montserrat Mir, Confederal Secretary of the ETUC responsible for gender equality issues: “The ETUC will continue to look at the role of trade unions in combatting violence against women, to share good practice and develop policy initiatives in this field, and to encourage trade unionists to do all they can to tackle violence against women and to support women who are the victims of violence.

Jan Willem Goudriaan, General Secretary of the European Public Service Union (EPSU): “Cuts in public services must be reversed to provide targeted services that combat violence against women.”

Christine Blower, ETUCE President: “School-related gender-based violence has a damaging effect on education staff and students. Aiming for quality education, ETUCE is committed to fight against this form of violence and to ‘Make Education Safe for All’ (EI campaign) and supports this joint action of the European Trade Union Federations.”

Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa: “Let’s use the power of media to eliminate violence against women, to transport images of strong and independent women and to promote gender equality all around the world.”

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, President of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ): “Violence and harassment against women in the news media have become increasingly serious. They not only face physical threats but also digital threats.  The severity of the problem requires not only the authorities to be tough on these crimes but also a culture of change in the workplace and society.”

Kerstin Howald, EFFAT Political Secretary for gender equality issues: “At EFFAT we take the issue very seriously. A substantial part of our gender equality work programme is devoted to the fight against sexual harassment and violence against women in the workplace, and we will pursue this particularly in our sectors.”

Cristina Tilling, ETF Political Secretary for Gender Equality: “Violence is the main factor that hinders retention of women transport workers in our industry. Workplace violence is one of the main priorities of the ETF Gender Equality Action Plan and we will soon start working on a training module for rank-and-file members in this critical issue.”

The ETUC will soon start an EU project “Safe at Home, Safe at Work”, looking at strategies for trade unions to manage and prevent workplace harassment and violence against women.

The ETUC represents 90 trade union organisations in 39 European countries, plus 10 European Trade Union Federations.