Interprofessional agreement on harassment and violence at work

In June 2009, the Independent Trade Union Confederation of Luxembourg, the Luxembourg Christian Trade Union Confederation and the Union of Luxembourg Enterprises signed an interprofessional agreement on harassment and violence at work. The agreement aims to transpose into Luxembourg law the European framework agreement on harassment and violence at work concluded by the European social partners on 26 April 2007.

On 25 June 2009, the Independent Trade Union Confederation of Luxembourg (Onofhängege Gewerkschaftsbond Lëtzebuerg, OGB-L), the Luxembourg Christian Trade Union Confederation (Lëtzebuerger Chrëschtleche Gewerkschafts-Bond, LCGB) and the Union of Luxembourg Enterprises (Union des Entreprises Luxembourgeoises, UEL) signed an interprofessional agreement relating to harassment and violence at work. This agreement aims to transpose into Luxembourg law the Framework agreement on harassment and violence at work (554Kb PDF) of 26 April 2007 concluded by the European social partners – the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the Confederation of European Business (BusinessEurope), the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (UEAPME) and the European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest (CEEP) (EU0705019I).

Guidelines for businesses

In the agreement, Luxembourg’s social partners identify harassment and violence at work as unacceptable conduct that could potentially affect all employees irrespective of the nature of their work and where they carry it out. According to the parties to the agreement, it is necessary to inform employers, workers and their representatives with respect to this problem and to give them advice on how to protect themselves against such conduct at work. Therefore, guidelines have been drafted as regards sensitisation, prevention and managing such acts of harassment or violence.

The fight against inappropriate conduct will be assessed within a company in cooperation with the company’s employee representatives. The assessment will deal with the efficiency of the preventive measures in place and the implementation of new measures in order to reinforce existing ones. A system of sanctions ranging from disciplinary measures to dismissal could be established. Measures may also be introduced with the aim of ensuring protection for victims of harassment or violence in the workplace so that they cannot be subject to reprisals following a report of or any form of resistance to harassment.

Legalities of agreement

The signatory parties have agreed to review the agreement every five years. This review, which may only be carried out on request by one of the parties, may lead to a revision of the conditions of the agreement.

The parties have also granted the social partners the possibility of concluding agreements at the appropriate level in order to specify the conditions of the agreement if necessary.

The social partners also suggest requesting that the government declares the agreement generally binding by way of a Grand-Ducal Decree. It will then be binding on all companies legally established on its territory, as well as on all workers associated with these companies through an employment contract.

Level of harassment and violence at work

According to the Fourth European Working Conditions Survey, 11.3% of workers in Luxembourg consider themselves victims of harassment at work; this is more than double the average European rate. Regarding violence at work, the figures for Luxembourg are around the average for Europe at 5.7% of workers who consider themselves victims of violence at work, the threat coming mainly from outside the workplace.

Another survey carried out in 2004 by a human resources management consultancy company confirms this tendency: 7.47% of the employees surveyed in Luxembourg complain of violence when carrying out their work, 7.14% of sexual harassment, 16.21% claim to be victims of mobbing at work and 16.78% have been subjected to discrimination. These percentages are high compared with the neighbouring countries Belgium and France, and the EU overall. Victims of sexual harassment in Luxembourg indicate a single colleague as the cause of the problem in 25% of the cases. Such conduct is due to a group of colleagues in 21.88% of cases and is perpetrated by a line manager in 18.75% of cases. With regard to mobbing, the perpetrator is one colleague or a group of colleagues in 40.84% of cases, while a superior is responsible for such conduct in 30.99% of cases.

Social partner initiatives

The social partners have been increasing initiatives in the struggle against harassment and violence at work for the past few years. The non-profit organisation Mobbing asbl, which aims to assist and counsel victims of harassment at work, was created in 2001 by LCGB and the Christian Transport Workers’ Trade Union ‘Syprolux’ (Fédération Chrétienne du Personnel des Transports, FCPT-Syprolux). In addition, OGB-L has organised information sessions on these issues. Meanwhile, UEL has integrated this subject into a cycle of conferences organised in 2009 to coincide with the World Day for Health and Safety at Work.

Odette Wlodarski, Prevent

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