Date: Tue, 21 Jul 98 17:22:20 CDT
From: (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: LABOUR: Violence in the Workplace—a Global Problem
Article: 39520
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <>

/** 365.0 **/
** Topic: Violence In The Workers Place Is Global **
** Written 8:35 PM Jul 19, 1998 by labornews in **

Violence in the Workplace—a Global Problem

By Gustavo Capdevila, IPS, 20 July 1998

GENEVA, Jul 20 (IPS)—Earning the daily bread can cost not only sweat, but also physical integrity, health, sexual privacy—and even life itself, says the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in a new report on violence in the workplace.

The study says outbursts of violence occurring at workplaces around the globe suggest that this issue is truly one that transcends the boundaries of a particular country, work setting or occupational group.

But some workplaces and occupations, like taxi drivers, health care workers, teachers, social workers, domestics in foreign countries, and people working alone, especially in late night retail operations, are at higher risk than others of experiencing such violence.

Women are particularly at risk, because so many are concentrated in the high-risk occupations, particularly as teachers, social workers, nurses, and bank and shop workers.

Both workers and employers show a growing recognition that psychological violence is a serious form of violence, including bullying or mobbing—in other words, group psychological harassment.

The study, drafted by Duncan Chapell and Vittorio Di Martino, is based on a survey carried out in 1996 by the Rome-based UN Inter-Regional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).

The survey, carried out in 32 countries, found the highest rates of assaults and sexual harassment on the job in France, Argentina, Rumania, Canada and England.

In the United States, some 1.000 killings take place in job settings every year. Homicide has become the leading cause of death on the job for American women, and the second leading cause for men.

The ILO said the study was aimed at promoting dialogue, policies and initiatives to repudiate violence and eradicate it from the workplace.

In the survey cited by the ILO, 11.2 percent of men and 8.9 percent of women in France reported that they had been subjected to assault over the past year.

In the same period, 19.8 percent of the women consulted in France reported sexual incidents.

In the same survey, 6.1 percent of men and 11.8 percent of women consulted in Argentina had been the objects of assaults in the previous year, while 16.6 percent of women reported sexual incidents.

A European Union survey based on 15,800 interviews carried out in the same period in the bloc's 15 member states estimated that in 1995, four percent of workers—around four million—were subjected to physical violence.

The same survey indicated that two percent—three million - had been subjected to sexual harassment, and eight percent—12 million—to intimidation and bullying.

The ILO says violence in the workplace stems from a combination of causes that includes the individual, the work environment, working conditions, the way in which co-workers interact, the way that customers or clients interact with workers, and the interaction between managers and workers.

Study author Di Martino said we reject the idea that the sole reason for workplace violence stems from the individual. We will never succeed in either preventing further violence or dealing with violence after it occurs by moving solely on that premise.

The ILO points out that violence brings changes in interpersonal relations, the organisation of work and the job setting in general, while employers pay the direct cost of the work lost and the need to improve security measures.

There are also indirect costs, says the study, including loss of efficiency, productivity, quality, company prestige and clientele.

Another study by the U.S. National Institute on Security in the Workplace found that the total cost of violence in the workplace in 1992 amounted to four billion dollars.