European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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Stress, harassment and violence

Work-related stress, physical and psychological harassment and violence find a ready airing on television and in the newspapers. Not to mention in the odd book that has crept onto the bestseller list. These risks, which professionals often describe as "emerging", are an increasingly common complaint among European workers.

An EU-wide survey of working conditions done in 2010 found some 4% reporting to have been bullied at work. More than 6% complained of discrimination and only 30% of workers in Europe think their working hours fit in very well with their social and family commitments.

Are they, then, quintessentially problems of modern-day society? Clearly not – they have always been around, but are now more often put in the public arena. Nevertheless, the new management methods, "human resource management", the struggle for a place in society and endless productivity-chasing propounded over the last thirty years by hard-line free marketeers have helped make matters worse. Job insecurity also plays a big role in the spread of these problems.

The ETUI believes these are occupational health issues that must be taken very seriously. In some tragic cases, work-related permanent stress, harassment and violence can end in suicide. This demands action both from the European authorities and the European unions and employers. ETUI researchers advised the ETUC throughout the negotiation of two framework agreements signed with the European employers' organizations – one to tackle work-related stress (2004), the other on harassment and violence at work (2007).

In June 2013, the ETUI staged the first European trade union seminar on psychosocial risks in Bilbao. A new European trade union network focused on psychosocial risks at the workplace was officially set up during this meeting.

A selection of articles from HesaMag on the issue: