Confederation of Independent TUs in Bulgaria: Violence at work most widespread among teachers, medical workers and journalists

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The levels of violence are highest in professions that are feminized, indicates an analysis of the data of a social survey, conducted by the Institute for Social and Trade Union Research of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria, CITUB.

The survey shows that 40 percent of employers are worried by the violence and harassment in the workplace, but only 25 percent have put in place measures aimed at preventing physical and psychological abuse. These figures emerged at a national conference “No! to violence in the workplace”, organized on the eve of International Women’s Day, 8 March, by the CITUB and its Commission for Equality, Family, Women and Children.

According to the Bulgarian Union of Teachers, the profession of teacher is top of the list in levels of stress and harassment, followed by the medical profession and journalists. The reasons for this are social and economic. As top cause, the trade union leaders pointed to the negative social environment, poverty and unemployment, uncertainty, widespread crime and outbursts of incontinence in different walks of life. The acts of physical and psychological harassment at work are now more frequent and that is the reason why the trade unions are proposing the adoption of a designated law against such acts.

The term “violence at work” is new to Bulgaria, even though the phenomenon is not new by a long shot,” says Dr. LyubenTomev, Director of the CITUB Institute for Social and Trade Union Research, and adds:

“The problem of workplace violence against women is not a personal matter, it is a structural problem and comes down from patriarchal times, but in our day the problem is exacerbated by the global economic model which commercializes the exploitation of women labour. At the same time it violates the rights of all workers. Violence takes different forms, but most often it is physical and psychological, with distinct acts of harassment, subjection to indignities and abuse. Data show that 7.5 percent of the respondents say they have been the target of physical violence in the past 12 months. Sometimes psychological trauma is more dangerous than physical trauma. The negative consequences for the economy are translated into reduced productivity, absence due to sick leave, a high level of staff turnover, early retirement due to sickness etc. With 18 percent of the respondents who state they have been subjected to stress and personal injury at work, they have resulted in medical treatment for 10 percent. Adding to this the indirect damage inflicted, it is clear that society in this country pays a steep price for stress at work. The sense of anger, helplessness and fear are frequently transferred to other family members.”

“Violence is so ingrained into our lives here, that sometimes it is difficult to sift it out, to pinpoint and condemn it. It begins at kindergarten, then school, then the workplace, there is hate speech in parliament, in the media, people take the law into their own hands and they are armed, all of these things spell victory for violence over the civilizational community we claim we belong to,” says CITUB Vice President PlamenNankov. The problem of violence at the workplace is directly connected with questions such as providing decent work and protection of fundamental labour rights. More from PlamenNankov:

“When someone has inflicted physical or psychological harassment at the workplace, they must be held accountable for their behavior in court. And if someone deprives me of my job and I am left without any means to support my family, that too is violence at the workplace. If employers do not pay my social security contributions in full, that too is violence because it infringes on my rights to medical services, to crediting etc. That too is a form of violence. Someone has to stop this madness, while it can still be stopped. Otherwise we shall lose the battle and will no longer be a country governed by law. The law will side with he who is better armed, he who is stronger and that is not a road we should be treading,” said in conclusion CITUB Vice President PlamenNankov.

English version: Milena Daynova

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