Trade Unions: no more brushing sexual harassment & violence under the table!

Trade unions and employers play a major role in making work safe for women, and helping to eliminate harassment and violence against women,” said Luca Visentini, Secretary General of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). “Collective agreements have shown to be a most effective means to combat this scourge.”


In the run up to the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November) the ETUC is highlighting the effectiveness of collective agreements for combatting violence against women, and underlines that the battle is far from won, calling for strengthened efforts to promote policies and procedures at the workplace to eradicate harassment and violence against women.


The ETUC calls for employers and trade unions to redouble their efforts to end harassment and violence against women in the workplace, and to support women who are victims of domestic violence.


A ground-breaking ETUC study ‘Safe at home, safe at work’, published this year, shows that trade unions are leading the fight against violence at the work place. There are now more than 160 collective agreements in place which have been negotiated by the trade unions in 10 EU countries addressing the multiple forms of harassment and violence that women may be subject to.  The ETUC says these agreements should encourage more trade unions and employers to:

  1. Negotiate policies, procedures and awareness-raising actions at sectoral and company level.
  2. Produce model workplace policies, and train workplace trade union representatives to negotiate agreements and policies on sexual harassment and violence.
  3. Ensure health and safety and wellbeing initiatives include solutions to harassment and violence against women.
  4. Provide information and support to workers experiencing violence and harassment at work or at home.


Women should not have to #MeToo,” said Montserrat Mir, ETUC Confederal Secretary, “there should be no more brushing sexual harassment and violence under the carpet. Trade unions and employers need to work together to stamp it out. There are many good examples of policies and procedures to tackle harassment and violence, and support for victims, negotiated by trade unions in many European countries. These efforts need to be redoubled.”


The ETUC also calls on policy-makers to strengthen the legal framework and believes that an ILO Convention against violence against women is long-overdue.


For the report ‘Safe at home, safe at work’

See p9 of the pdf of the ‘full report’ for the 10 things that trade unions can do to tackle harassment and violence against women.


For examples of trade unions collectively bargaining for policies and procedures to tackle harassment and violence against women and support for victims (including those suffering domestic violence) see