TUC Nezavisnost: “STOP gender violence at the workplace”

A seminar on the topic “STOP gender violence at the workplace” was held in Belgrade on 8 and 9 September 2017. The seminar was organized by the Trade Union Confederation NEZAVISNOST, in cooperation with the Pan-European Regional Council (PERC), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), with the support of Swedish Union to Union project.

The seminar was attended by 28 participants – Women’s Section activists and representatives of trade union leadership, in addition to ITUC/PERC representatives Enisa Salimović and Olga Nikolae and representatives of national institutions covering workplace violence issues within their scope of activities (the list of participants is enclosed).
International Trade Union Confederation’s campaign “STOP gender-based violence at work” was presented at the seminar. The participants have been informed of its objectives and proposed activities that could contribute to the success of the campaign. The objective of the campaign is to build critical support for the adoption of an International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention and accompanying Recommendation on violence and harassment against women and men in the world of work, to mobilize and strengthen trade union action in eradication gender-based violence from the world of work.
On the first day the following speakers presented their contributions: Brankica Janković, Commissioner for the protection of equality on Gender-based discrimination in the field of work and employment, as the most frequent source of violence, Jasmina Maričić Vukotić, representative of the Labour Inspectorate, on Violence against women and men at the workplace. These presentations have contributed to shed light on the topic from various angles and encouraged confidence that the mentioned institutions would devote their attention to this subject and be ready to cooperate more closely with trade unions in activities aimed at preventing and addressing consequences of workplace violence.
Olga Nikolae, ITUC/PERC representative, spoke about PERC priorities in the area of gender issues, while Enisa Salimović, representative of ITUC/PERC SEE Office devoted her presentation to the Importance of sub-regional cooperation in the field of gender issues. Jasminka Marić, President of the TUC NEZAVISNOST’s Women’s Section, presented the ITUC campaign “STOP violence against women and men at work”.
Speakers on the second day of the seminar included Dr Marjana Trkulja, M.Sc., and Prof. Dr Aleksandar Milovanović from the Occupational Medicine Institute, who presented their views on Violence at the workplace – effects on physical and mental health. Psychologist Vera Kondić from TUC NEZAVISNOST spoke on Stress – how to recognize and overcome it.
In the further course of the seminar, through work in groups and relying on previous presentations and discussions, the following priorities and conclusions have been recognized:
• The need to draft a new Gender Equality Law that would focus on the right to work and employee’s rights; to insist on transparency of work and better insight into employer’s operation. Fixed-term work should be better defined, because the existing law leaves room for abuse, particularly in the context of the right to equal pay. It is also necessary to improve material position of pregnant workers and those on maternity leave, and introduce more rigorous penal policy for non-compliance with legal regulations.

• It is necessary to improve the Law on Inspection Supervision, which is in force since 1992, and is therefore often replaced in practice by actions according to the Law on Administrative Procedure; upgrading control lists; introduction of standards and new mechanisms for their implementation in practice. It is also necessary to strengthen efficiency of inspection bodies; seeking new allies; strengthening of cooperation with NGOs; intensified campaign promotion; drawing on experiences of bad practice in order to arrive at good examples; use of experiences in the region; cooperation with trade unions in multinational companies; organisation of education on violence at the workplace and violence in general, through education at all levels – from children in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, to university students; compiling and updating databases; making white and black lists of companies and employers (those who observe the rules and non-compliant ones); insistence on transparency (using networks, facebook, websites, media …); strengthening prevention (reintroducing SOS helpline); activating occupational safety and health committees; defining trade union strategy in this field; intensify communication.
”All the foregoing requires us to wonder whether we know the society we live in. Do we want to influence the course of affairs? A contemporary person takes care about physical health, but very little about spiritual health. Race for material wealth pushes virtues and ethics to the margin. What is encouraging is that virtue can be learned.” (Dr Marjana Trkulja, M.Sc.).
Belgrade, 15 September 2017 TUC NEZAVISNOST
Čedanka Andrić, Executive Secretary