Ending workplace violence and harassment in the commerce sector

Ending workplace violence and harassment in the commerce sector

To work safely and in dignity, free from violence and harassment of any kind, is a fundamental human right which no worker must be denied. Commerce workers are however amongst those that suffer from high rates of harassment at the workplace. 

Trade unionists from across Europe’s commerce sector came together for a two-day workshop on the issue.  The objective was to share their experiences and learn about initiatives at the European and global levels aiming to put a definitive end to workplace violence and harassment as well as to exchange the anti-harassment and violence prevention policies in different countries and companies. Participants had the opportunity to further discuss joint actions to eliminate negative practices by strengthening social dialogue and implementing appropriate preventive mechanisms.

The workshop ended with a brainstorming on what should be included in the cross-sector guidelines which will be developed throughout the course of the project and presented at its final conference next year. Key points that came out of the discussions were that we need a stronger response from trade unions and joint actions and commitment from employers to achieve violence and harassment free environment in the commerce sector, shops and other commercial establishments. Workplace health and safety must include strong protection against discrimination, violence and harassment – and not only the rules but also implementation and monitoring mechanisms.

Commerce workers often have public-facing roles and third-party violence is a major issue in the commerce sector. “The customer is not always right, and violence is not part of the job,” said Erika Kahära, UNI Europa Women’s Committee Vice- President. Participants were given an update on UNI’s commerce sector has led a global campaign to stop violence and harassment in commerce. “The customer is not always right, and violence is not part of the job,” – said Erika Kahära, UNI Europa Women’s Committee Vice- President.

It has been almost 3 years since the ILO adopted its Convention 190 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. Yet, to date, only 25 countries around the world have ratified it – and only 7 of these in Europe.

“Domestic violence is not a private issue. Employers have a duty of care and could provide paid leave. A victim of domestic violence should not have to choose between her safety and her job,” said Veronica Fernandez Mendez, UNI Equal Opportunities Head of department.

Inequality between women and men persists in the world of work in many forms, from career prospects and development opportunities to various terms and conditions. The aim of this UNI Europa Equal Opportunities cross-sector project is to contribute to ending violence and harassment at work. This includes tackling domestic violence, as – with rising remote work – the home has become the new workplace.

In order to achieve this goal, UNI Europa will:

  • continue to campaign for the ratification of ILO Convention 190 and Recommendation 260;
  • train and inform about the tools and mechanisms available to prevent violence and harassment in the world of work;
  • encourage affiliates and employer organisations to use collective bargaining as a tool to reach these objectives;
  • address the gender pay and pensions gap in order to tackle the issue of economic violence;
  • discuss the content of the draft EU Pay Transparency Directive;
  • encourage active participation in campaigns, activities, marches, and protests;
  • combat all forms of social regression;
  • support a multifaceted, joint social partner strategy, including the exchange of best practices to tackle exclusion and discrimination in the workplace as well as the development of participatory workplace cultures where inclusion and diversity are a priority;
  • and develop Cross-sectoral EU guidelines for services workers on the prevention of violence and harassment at work.

More information on the project and the presentations made in the gaming sector workshop can be found here.

For more information please contact: Amel Selma Djemail and/or Annika Flaten.

Meetings & Events




Sectoral SD Committee Temporary Agency Workers Working Group Meeting

Agency Workers

Timing: TBC



UNI Europa Finance SD Bank Preparatory Meeting




Bank Sectoral Social Dialogue Working Group Meeting