HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE, USF EMPHASIZES THE IMPORTANCE OF PREVENTION
Round table February 2019
FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
A large audience from the European Union institutions and the Secretariat of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states had the opportunity to interact during the round table that was organised on the theme of #harassment at work by the Working Group on Harassment (WG) of Union Syndicale Fédérale (USF). The event took place in a conference room kindly made available by the ACP Secretariat in presence of the Peter Kempen, Secretary General of USF, as well as Maximin Emagna, President of the ACP Staff Association.
Around the table: in addition to a representative of the victims, a psychologist specialising in well-being at work, a lawyer who regularly deals with Union Syndicale cases, in particular cases of harassment; an agent of the European Commission, member of USF, in his function of a Safety and Health Officer – Unit “Health and Safety at Work, Training in the field of Awareness and Prevention Policy on Psycho-social Risks”.
From the exchange of views on the subject around the table and the reactions and testimonies of the public, several elements emerged. One such was the crucial importance, in avoiding harassment, of prevention, which, in addition to avoiding considerable material costs, could save incalculable human costs. Other observations included the need either to better apply existing instruments or to improve them; the central role of middle managers on the one hand, but also the importance of the top hierarchy on the other, as well as everyone else’s involvement. Emphasis was also placed on the multicultural factor; the notion of fear that sometimes prevails; the aggravating role that an unregulated switchover to digital work can play; the emotional dimension, which is very important in these cases, as well as the importance of people whose role it is to support the victim, from an administrative, medical or legal point of view. The choice between filing an administrative complaint or taking legal action was also discussed, as one does not prevent the other, since the approaches and length of proceedings differ.
One of the conclusions was that we simply have to “do something” for our suffering colleagues. In this sense, the draft Rules to improve the handling of complaints, which the working group on Harassment and Psychosocial Risks has submitted to the Federal Committee for the Bratislava Congress, provides guidance on the essential elements to be taken into account in lobbying our institutions for better handling of instances of harassment and to help the trade union organisations affiliated to USF to provide day-to-day assistance to our fellow workers concerned by this scourge.