Social partners present training toolkit to eradicate bullying and harassment in shipping

28 Jan 2014

Joint ETF and ECSA initiative targets seafarers and shipping companies to tackle bullying and harassment practices in the sector

On Wednesday 29 January 2014, the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA)   organise a conference in Brussels to present the outcomes of a joint social partners’ project that aims to eliminate workplace harassment and bullying in the shipping sector. The project produced a training package that addresses the maritime community at large for making efforts to raise maximum awareness on how to identify and effectively fight against bullying and harassment practices, which continues to be an issue in the sector.

At the final conference (see agenda attached as annex), organised in the Husa Hotel President Park in Brussels, experts from the ILO (International Labour Organisation), the European Parliament and Commission officials and representatives from the two sides of the industry, union leaders and shipowners, will debate the issue in a panel discussion and exchange views on how to ensure effective follow-up in the European shipping industry. Around 100 sector representatives are expected to attend and can participate in the debate via a Q&A session.

Philippe Alfonso, ETF Political Secretary and project’s coordinator: “Bullying and harassment remain a problem in the sector. It goes often unreported – as one out of two cases are not denounced – and demand continuing attention from the social partners, be it at European or national levels. These acts of aggression take a variety of forms, including cyber-bullying and harassment which is a powerful mean of spreading malicious rumours for instance. The training toolkit we have been developing provides first-hand information on how to identify incidents, launch a special grievance procedure, respond to a complaint of bullying and/or harassment, and implement formal/informal process of resolution of the case. If we are serious about promoting a zero tolerance culture towards harassment and bulling in shipping, training, communication and awareness are the key words, and it goes without saying that modern means of communication should be mobilised to reach the widest possible audience.”

Christophe Tytgat, ECSA Senior Director: “ECSA is very much aware of the responsibility that lies with the shipping companies. The latter have the duty of care to raise maximum awareness amongst crew members on the disastrous consequences of harassment and bullying practices. They are also responsible for adopting proper policy that would prevent these very wrong behaviours to occur. We are confident that such a project will give shipping companies’ top management the opportunity to show their commitment in achieving a harassment and bullying-free workplace.”

A wide range of stakeholders from the shipping community will be encouraged to assist in getting the message through, in particular trade union organisations and shipowners’ associations at national level, but also Maritime Education and Training (MET) institutes. The latter may consider making the most of the training toolkit by, for instance, integrating it as part of their basic training and education programmes.

As for Philippe Alfonso, “The issue of harassment and bullying should remain high on the agenda of the social partners at both EU and national levels. Besides, the project and its outcomes should be updated on a regular basis with new scenarios and examples of good practices. What is more, the project output could be used to prompt discussions at national level towards legislative changes, should loopholes need to be closed in this regard”.

The training toolkit contains guidelines to shipping companies in 23 languages, a training video subtitled in 11 languages and a workbook aiming at “training the trainers”. It is the result of an EU-funded project, carried out by the recognised European Social Partners of the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for the Maritime Transport, which updates existing training materials produced in the context of a previous joint initiative conducted in 2004.

For further information please contact:
Philippe Alfonso, ETF Political Secretary for Maritime Transport
Tel. +, email:
Christophe Tytgat, ECSA Senior Director
Tel. +32 2 510 61 29, email: