Social Summit in Brussels passes over harassment at work
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    Social Summit in Brussels passes over harassment at work

    The so-called Tripartite Social Summit between EU institutions, member states and the social partners took place yesterday in Brussels. The issue of harassment at work was not on the agenda. The summit takes place twice a year ahead of the European Councils and deals with the situation on the labour market. This time the summit focused on reinforcing competitiveness, sustainable job creation and social fairness in the EU. The participants discussed also the potential of the digital revolution for labour market and the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

    “12 million new jobs have been created since 2014, investment is picking up and the economy is growing,” summarized European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and listed the priorities: work-life balance, predictable and transparent working conditions, access to social protection, the coordination of social security systems and the new European Labour Authority.

    International convention

    As regards the issue of harassment or mobbing at the work place, a Commission spokesperson referred the Brussels Times to the current negotiations with the “International Labour Organization” (ILO).

    “The Commission takes part in these discussions and is supportive of the ongoing work at ILO level,” said the spokesperson.

    Asked by the Brussels Times about the status of the work, a source in ILO replied that a binding convention on work harassment is expected to be proposed at next international labour conference in June 2019.

    Governments, after consulting with organizations of employers and workers, are requested to inform ILO by 8 November 2018 whether they have any amendments to suggest.

    A convention is a legally binding international treaty that may be ratified by Member States. All EU Member States are also members of the ILO. A recommendation provides non-binding guidelines on how the convention could be applied.

    There is good practice in Europe on prevention and prosecution of work harassment but currently anti-harassment legislation varies by member states.  

    In 2007, a Framework agreement on harassment and violence at work was signed by the social partners, representing employers and unions on European level. The decision deals mostly with information and awareness raising measures and has been unevenly implemented by EU Member States.

    In the past, the European Commission considered the possibility of harmonizing of anti-harassment legislation but faced opposition by the social partners. With ILO´s proposal for a binding convention on harassment at work the issue might be resolved.

    At the international labour conference last year, the EU representative described harassment at work as a matter of great concern and stated that “EU warmly supports the development of an ILO instrument that will be effective and will have an impact in and on the world of work”.

    “Violence and harassment at work is fueled by discrimination, unequal power relations, and gender inequality.” According to a study published in 2015, in the EU Member States alone, 14% of workers report to have been subject to violence or harassment at their workplace.

    M.Apelblat
    The Brussels Times