Equality for men and women in the workplace has been one of the longest standing aims of European social policy. Forty years after the adoption of the first Directive, and in spite of numerous initiatives by the European Union, there is still a long way to go to achieve full gender equality in the workplace.
A major obstacle in this regard is the invisible nature of the specific risks facing working women, which stem from the organisation of work. The deeply entrenched nature of gender segregation on the labour market and sexist stereotypes only serves to reinforce the status quo: managerial posts are still predominantly filled by men and part-time hours are essentially the preserve of women.
In addition to the fact that the difficult nature of work in female-dominated sectors is ignored from a social perspective, unpaid labour (childcare, housework, etc.) is still regarded as ‘women’s work’.
Even though progress has been made in some European countries, the systematic denial of the hardships facing working women makes it more difficult for them to ensure recognition of work-related illnesses.
Deteriorating working conditions, lack of staff, job burnout: the health sector has been experiencing a serious crisis for a number of years. Across Europe, the trade unions are ringing alarm bells. The health of their members is at serious risk. In the countries worst affected by the recession, the policies of austerity have made the situation even worse and their knock-on effect has been a reduction in the quality of care.
In this special report, the European Trade Union Institute looks to identify the main factors that are undermining occupational health services in Europe: shortage of specialists, overwork that undermines the quality of services, loss of direct contact with actual working conditions, feeling of being forsaken, commercialism of health and safety at work services, etc.
The latest issue of ETUI's HesaMag focuses on working conditions in the waste and recycling industries in Europe.