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ISSUE 53 page 4

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Unions/employers build on violence at work deal with training and information campaign
 IN 2007 THE SOCIAL PARTNERS SIGNED AN EU FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT that dealt with violence at work.  However, as with many such deals, the hard part was publicising and implementing it. Another problem was the prevalence of third-party violence which a 2005 Eurofound survey found to make up three-quarters of all such incidents at work, one in twenty European workers having experienced violence of some kind. Clients, customers, patients, service users, pupils, parents or  members of the public can inflict harassment ranging from ‘disrespect’ through ‘cyber-bullying’ to physical assault. Yet this problem was only mentioned in passing in the original agreement. It was therefore thought apt that special guidelines should be drawn up. Representatives from both sides of the healthcare, education, local
beginning and involve a “holistic” approach, covering all aspects from awareness-raising over prevention and training to methods of reporting, support for victims and evaluation and ongoing improvement’. Important features of the deal include providing information such as a definition of third-party violence and a warning to third parties that violence will not be tolerated, risk assessment which takes into account the working environment of each employee, training in conflict management, a clear policy on the support to be given to affected workers and procedures to both investigate and monitor allegations of violence. The European social partners pledged to disseminate these guidelines through their national federations, including, for the first time, those outside the EU, and to hold a series of workshops with the support of the European Commission.

Eight employer and trade union organisations signed the agreement

government, commerce and private security sectors convened to come up with a policy framework for employers. This states that ‘The most successful initiatives involve both social partners from the very



Council of Ministers throws out maternity leave boost

THE RECENT VICTORY FOR working mothers in the European Parliament (see our last issue) rang hollow when  EU Member States came to consider the extension of paid maternity leave to twenty weeks recently. Under the EU’s co-decision procedure the parliament and the Council of Ministers must agree before a proposal by the European Commission can be enacted into EU law. A number of ministers complained that the parliament’s proposal would be too expensive in the current economic slump. Predictably the UK was prominent among them with employment relations minister Ed Davey claiming that the measure would cost  €2.75 billion. However with France and Germany joining in, the Belgian chair of the Council could declare that ‘The very, very great majority of member states consider that parliament went too far in offering to extend maternity leave to 20 weeks, with 100 percent pay. That is not a basis for negotiation’.  While the European Parliament amended the original 18-week Commission proposal, the Council appeared to be opposed to this too. According to Edite Estrela MEP who had insisted in the original debate that ‘Maternity cannot be regarded as a burden on social security systems, it is an investment in our future’, the Council of Ministers have shown that they ‘didn't fully understand the parliament's role within the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty’.

ETUC names first woman General Secretary
BERNADETTE SEGOL HAS BEEN APPOINTED as the successor to John Monks as General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). Currently Ms. Ségol, who was born in France, is the regional secretary of UNI-Europa, a confederation which brings together 330 unions representing seven million members in private services. She has been active in campaigning against the Services, or ‘Bolkenstein’ directive, for the law on Temporary Agency Workers and in establishing European Works Councils in over 200 companies. Commenting on the response to the financial crisis she said ‘'Budgetary deficits must be dealt with; but a short-sighted, short-term belt tightening policy … will prevent the return to growth. In many EU countries tax policies have to change: the very rich must contribute much more to the re-balancing of the economies’. She will be the first female occupant of the top job when she takes over at the ETUC Congress in Athens in May.


Bernadette Ségol

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