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 2015 found that 16% of the workers in the EU reported they have been subjected to adverse social behaviour, 7% to discrimination at work in the last 12 months, and 6% feel they are never or rarely treated fairly at their workplace. 

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:


ILO to draft sexual harassment treaty

22 June 2018

On 8 June, the International Labour Organization (ILO) agreed to draft an international treaty to protect workers from sexual harassment and violence.

Defining the spirit of a European directive on psychosocial risks

28 May 2018

On 26 and 27 April 2018 the European Trade Union Network on Psychosocial Risks met for the fifth time, in Tuusula, Finland. There were 27 participants, representing trade union organisations from 16 countries and European trade union federations. The previous annual seminars had in turn examined the implementation of the framework agreements (Bilbao, 2013), tools for evaluating psychosocial risks (Brussels, 2014), multidisciplinary dialogue with other professionals in the field of psychosocial risks (Malta, 2015) and the collective action that could be taken in this area (Brussels, 2017), and this fifth seminar provided the opportunity to hold a preliminary discussion on a possible European directive on psychosocial risks (PSR).

One in every five European workers endures work-related stress

3 May 2018

Some 18 % of European workers say that they endure stress at work every day, according to the opinion survey ‘The Workforce View in Europe 2018’, published in March by the private human resources company ADP (Automatic Data Processing). This figure is 5 % higher than the 2017 result.

A new survey raises concerns about the health of nursing staff

13 April 2018

More than 40 % of nurses believe that their work often has an impact on their health, reveals a French survey published at the beginning of April by the National Order of Nurses.

France: 10 000 mental health problems recognised as workplace accidents in 2016

12 February 2018

According to a report published on 16 January by France’s Sickness Insurance Fund-Occupational Health, in 2016 more than 10 000 workplace accidents were a result of mental health issues.