Europe Academy seminar in Madrid on violence against workers

On June 21 the CESI Europe Academy held a members’ seminar on ‘Violence at Work: Protecting our members as workers and victims’ in Madrid.

The seminar was the second regional event on the topic of third-party violence against public employees in the context of a current larger-scale EU-funded project on ‘Trade unions for a zero tolerance towards violence at work: Protecting public sector workers in Europe’ after a first workshop in Berlin on March 29.

According to the 2014 EU-OSHA European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER 2), 67% of Spanish staff in the education sector and in the social services has been facing a difficult audience in its daily work.

ESENER 2 reports about a 62% rate when it comes to public administration. The objective of the seminar in Madrid was therefore to assess the situation Spain and put light on good initiative and practices to prevent or tackle third-party violence in the country.

Concrete testimonies came from the education, health, prison, local police and railway sector, each delivered by a member organisation or affiliate of CESI. Violence in the private sector, such as in call-centers or in wholesale, was also part of the discussion. Involved speakers and CESI members included: Rosario Delgado Moreno (CSIF, Spain, public sector), Rubén García Bernal (FASGA, Spain, private sector), Alejandro Martínez Treceño (ALE/SEMAF, Spain, train driving sector), Jesús Niño Triviño (ANPE, Spain, education sector), Maria del Mar Rocha Martínez (SATSE, Spain, health sector), Matthäus Fandrejewski (CESI Youth), Isabel Lozano Sevilla (SAE, Spain, health sector), Wouter Prins (CNV Connectief, Netherlands, public sector), Sara Rinaudo (CESI Youth, and Confsal, Italy) as well as Marcella Migliori (CESI General Secretariat), CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger and CSIF President Miguel Borra Izquierdo.

A common element which was put forward in all testimonies was a sense of loneliness of and support for affected workers both at the time of the aggression and after the episode – which is where trade unions should get a greater role, CESI members established.

All experts agreed that in the last years there has been a rise in violence at work, also attributable to cuts in staff and equipment, with workers being victims twice: first of austerity measures, and second, as a consequence, a higher incidence of violent behaviors against them by third actors because they are not always able to perform their tasks in a proper way. It was also highlighted that many cases of violence (especially verbal violence) are often still not reported.

In his intervention, CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger noted the particular vulnerability of employees in the public sector to violence and third-party aggression: “Next to rising incidents of violence against public sector workers, there is also an unacceptable trivialisation of violence in our societies. Attacks on policemen, teachers or healthcare personnel is a major offense. Specific legislation should also be in place to make sure that no victim is left behind after experiencing violence.”

CESI’s project will continue with further workshops and symposia coming up on October 25 in Budapest and in France in June 2020, with a view to presenting conclusions and launch an awareness campaign on the subject matter at the EU level.

Picture: CESI Europe Academy conference in Madrid © CESI 2019