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It's not OK You think sexual harassment and assaults are at their worst in the movie industry? Hazards editor Rory O’Neill says try life as a cleaner, hotel housekeeper or waitress – or anyone in low paid ‘women’s work’ facing routine abuse with few rights and little chance of redress.
Hazards 140, October-December 2017

Hit list The TUC says reporting of work-related violence is critical in tackling the issue. The union body advises that without a strong and well-used reporting system, there will not be an effective response to incidents or a way to identify potential hotspots and trends. Here, it lays out its blow-by-blow guide.
Hazards 132, October-December 2015

Hazards work violence news

Britain: Teachers sent home for refusing to teach violent pupils
Teachers at Kaimes School in Edinburgh have had their pay stopped and been barred entry to their classrooms after refusing to teach eight pupils in a dispute over violent and disruptive behaviour. Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: “The action the council is taking against our members is far more disruptive to children’s education than any action the teachers themselves are taking.”
NASUWT news release. BBC News Online.
TUC violence at work guide and related violence and assaults reporting form. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: No hiding place for bullies in the ambulance service
There should soon be no hiding place for bullies at the South Western Ambulance Service (SWAS), health service union UNISON has said. The union was commenting on the publication of an independent four-month study found a third of staff had witnessed bullying, mostly of their colleagues, but of managers in some cases too.
UNISON news release. Independent report. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Stronger protection from violence for NHS staff
The first ever health service violence reduction strategy is to be introduced, the government has said. UNISON head of health Sara Gorton, welcomed the new strategy, noting: “It is encouraging that the government has listened to unions and agreed to review measures in place to ensure staff safety.”
Department of Health and Social Care news release. The Sun. Daily Mail. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Unite welcomes RSPCA chief’s commitment on harassment
The head of animal welfare charity RCPCA has promised action to address high levels of bullying and harassment in the organisation. New chief executive Chris Sherwood pledged to tackle his organisation’s toxic culture, revealed in a major survey undertaken by Unite.
Unite news release. Third Sector magazine. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Welcome progress on harassment and bullying in parliament
The union Prospect has welcomed a decision of the House of Commons Commission to implement the recommendations of the independent report by Dame Laura Cox into bullying and harassment of staff in parliament. Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham responded: “This is a long overdue and very welcome decision that is a vital step in rebuilding trust between parliament and the staff who work there. Parliament may write our employment law but it has certainly not led the way on employment practices and it is disappointing that it has taken such public pressure to drag it into the 21st Century.”
Prospect news release. House of Commons Commission statement. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Virgin staff safer after union bodycam ‘victory’
The use of bodycams by frontline workers on Virgin Trains has resulted in assaults on staff falling by more than half, in what the union RMT has described as a campaign ‘victory’.  Following a pilot scheme, Virgin Trains said assaults on Virgin Trains staff have fallen month by month, from 20 in March 2018 to 6 in September.
RMT news release. Virgin Trains news release. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Retail staff need protection as shoplifting continues to rise
The government must act in light of new Office for National Statistics (OHS) figures revealing a further increase in shoplifting in England and Wales in the year to June 2018. The union says these police-recorded reports confirm an upward trend that has seen a 32 per cent increase over the last decade.
Usdaw news release. Police recorded crimes in England and Wales, released 18 October 2018. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain:Scottish government must end public services ‘aggro’
Public services union UNISON has called for action from the Scottish government to “end the aggro” faced by council and NHS workers. The union’s 2018 survey of violence at work revealed assaults on public service workers are running at more than 40,000 incidents for the third successive year.
UNISON news release. Violence at Work: A Survey of UNISON employers and staff in Scotland 2018. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: PCS to train reps to challenge sexual harassment at work
Civil service union PCS is to launch a one-day sexual harassment awareness course in the wake of ‘shocking’ reports exposing the culture of bullying, harassment and intimidation across the civil service. In conjunction with TUC Education, the union has designed the workshop to “raise awareness among all union reps, and give them the confidence and tools to challenge management where change is not forthcoming.”
PCS news release. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Commons staff press for action on bullying and harassment
Union members working in the Houses of Parliament may have “little other choice” but to resort to action unless there is a tough response to the widespread bullying and sexual harassment revealed by a just-published probe, the union representing senior civil servants has warned. Amy Leversidge, assistant general secretary of the FDA, which represents top civil servants, said staff had been “pushed to breaking point” and Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham has written to the leaders of all parties at Westminster, stressing the need for effective leadership to put the wellbeing of staff ahead of political interests or personal agendas.
FDA news release. Prospect news release. Morning Star. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Prison union welcomes safety equipment roll out
Prison officers across the country will be equipped with incapacitant spray to help keep them safe and maintain order, prisons minister Rory Stewart has announced. The news, which has been welcomed by the prison officers’ union POA, “will ensure every prison officer in the adult male estate is equipped with PAVA - a synthetic pepper spray which temporarily incapacitates those it is sprayed upon,” the government said.
Ministry of Justice news release. POA news release. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: New report must signal end of parliamentary bullying
A newly published independent report into parliamentary bullying and harassment should be ‘the final nail in the coffin’ of the culture of abuse of parliamentary staff by MPs, the union Prospect has said. The report from Dame Laura Cox found a culture of “deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence” in Westminster where abuse was “tolerated and covered up”.
The bullying and harassment of House of Commons staff: Independent Inquiry Report, Dame Laura Cox DBE, 15 October 2018. Prospect news release. BBC News Online. Morning Star. The Guardian. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Australia: Two-thirds of cabin crew sexually harassed
Two-thirds (65 per cent) of airline cabin crew have experienced sexual harassment, with one in five crew reporting more than 10 incidents, a union survey has found. The findings “show that airlines are not taking the problem seriously and are not supporting workers when they are faced with what are daily assaults on them,” said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.
TWU news release. Skift. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Study confirms the vital safety role of train guards
New research from the rail union RMT has revealed the vital role train guards play in delivering a safe, secure and accessible railway. The union says the crucial safety critical role of guards is demonstrated by the fact that 80 per cent of guards have prevented an emergency situation and used their safety critical training in an actual emergency situation.  
RMT news release. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Rail violence hike shows need to halt staff cuts
Rail union RMT has called for an immediate halt to plans to axe train guards and ‘de-staff’ stations after new official figures from the British Transport Police (BTP) revealed a sharp 17 per cent increase in violent incidents on Britain's railways. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the “shocking figures” demonstrate “nothing short of criminal negligence on the part of those rail companies that have axed guards and de-staffed stations‎ in the drive for profits."
RMT news release. BTP news release. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: New dignity at work agreement protects postal workers
A new dignity at work collective agreement between the postal workers’ union CWU and Post Office management pledges the organisation will be “a safe space for all, where everyone feels valued and treated with dignity, courtesy and respect.” CWU postal executive member Lynn Simpson, who played a leading role in constructing the new policy, said: “It sends a clear message that bullying, discrimination, intimidation or threatening behaviours are not acceptable and there are robust procedures in place to ensure a safe working environment.”
CWU news release and joint statement. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Shoppers agree that shopworkers deserve protection
The overwhelming majority of shoppers believe the government should protect shopworkers from violence and abuse when enforcing age-restricted sales laws, according to a new poll published by the Co-operative Party. Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis commented: “When parliament passes laws that shopworkers have to enforce, they should also provide legal protection for shopworkers.”
Cooperative Party news release. Usdaw news release and Freedom from Fear campaign. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Crime rising on trains as staff are cut, RMT warns
Crime levels on Northern rail services are climbing because ‘greedy’ operators are putting profits before passengers by shedding staff, rail union RMT has said. The union said the problem will worsen if the company succeeds in removing safety-critical guards from trains.
RMT news releases on the Piccadilly Line strike and on Northern Rail. Morning Star. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Union praises ‘brave’ prison officers
The disturbances at Long Lartin prison are a further illustration of the crisis engulfing Britain’s prison system, the prison officers’ union POA has said. In the wake of a weekend of riots at the prison, the union said its call for protective measures to help staff quell the ‘unprecedented levels of violence’ had been vindicated.
POA news releases on prisons in crisis and the Long Lartin disturbances. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Japan:  Sexual harassment still not taken seriously
Progress this year towards an International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention on harassment and violence in the workplace has focused attention in Japan on an issue often ignored or downplayed in the country. On 19 September, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare's Labour Policy Council began serious talks on the subject.
Mainichi Shimbun. Reports of the Standard-Setting Committee on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work: Summary of proceedings, ILO, 2018. Risks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: NHS bullying to be tackled
The government has said that it will crack down on NHS directors who fail to act on what ministers say are “alarming” levels of bullying of hospital staff. Stephen Barclay, a health minister, has told The Independent he wants the current “fit and proper” person test for NHS directors to be widened to require action on harassment and discrimination.
Independent. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Prison workers act on violence
The prison officer’s union, the POA, has taken protest action over the huge rise in violence in Britain’s prisons. It was triggered by a letter from Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke to the Secretary of State issuing an Urgent Notification Notice at HMP Bedford following a catalogue of failures.
POA new release. POA update. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Shopworkers welcome amendment on weapons
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw, has welcomed an amendment to the Offensive Weapons Bill that will make it a specific offence to obstruct a shopworker in their duty to enforce the law on the sale of offensive weapons. Shopworkers face growing violence and intimidation when they refuse to sell prohibited items such as acid and knives to those considered underage.
Usdaw release. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Better protection for emergency workers
Unions have welcomed a new law that will make it a criminal offence to assault emergency workers including police, paramedics, firefighters, prison officers, search and rescue personnel and custody officers. The current six-month maximum sentence for common assault will be doubled to a year for the new crime created by the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act, which will also enable judges to increase terms given to people committed for a range of other crimes where the involvement of emergency services was an “aggravating factor”.
GMB release The act Protect the protectors campaign. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: School support staff experiencing ‘shocking’ violence
Half of school support staff have experienced ‘shocking’ violence at work, with incidents including stabbings and attempted strangulations, a study by the union GMB has found. More than half of school staff had first-hand experience of violence at work – with more than 16 per cent suffering attacks every week, the new GMB figures show.
GMB news release. The Independent. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: Unions want justice for Grenfell and harassment victims
There must be justice for the victims of the Grenfell fire and those harmed by workplace sexual harassment, unions have said. Delegates to the TUC Congress, held from 9-12 September in Manchester, called for politicians to be held to account over the decisions that led to 72 people dying in the Grenfell Tower blaze last year and endorsed a motion calling for changes in the law to empower victims.
TUC Congress 2018 webpages and Congress motions. TUC blog. Morning Star coverage of the TUC Congress on Grenfell and sexual harassment. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: Civil service unions raise harassment concerns
Civil service unions in Scotland have said all workers must be safe from harassment at work. Unions PCS, Prospect and the FDA provided the statement to members employed by Scottish ministers, Scottish public bodies and in the Scottish parliament in the wake of media coverage of harassment allegations by two civil servants against former first minister Alex Salmond.
PCS news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Private operator G4S loses control of Birmingham Prison
Prison unions have said the decision by the government to take over running of Birmingham Prison from private company G4S ilustrates how a combination of privatisation and underfunding has put the safety of inmates and prison staff at risk. The decision to remove the prison from G4S’ control came after the chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke described it as the worst prison he had ever been to.
BBC News Online. POA news release. Community news release. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Britain: Police chiefs agree to act on sexual harassment
Police chiefs have pledged to act over high levels of sexual harassment among police staff identified in a report by UNISON, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of Surrey. The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said the report highlights some ‘outdated and unacceptable behaviour’.
UNISON news release. BBC News Online. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Britain: Usdaw ‘extremely concerned’ as shopworkers told to make arrests
Retail union Usdaw has said it is ‘extremely concerned’ by news some police forces are advising shopworkers to detain shoplifters by using a citizen’s arrest. The union said the ‘worrying’ idea is neither safe nor practical.
Usdaw news release. Daily Mail.Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Britain: Shopworkers press for protection from offensive weapons
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has given evidence to the parliamentary public bill committee scrutinising the Offensive Weapons Bill. The union is calling for amendments to the Bill that will make it an offence to attempt to purchase corrosive substances and knives underage or to intimidate or assault a worker enforcing the law on age restricted sales.
Usdaw news release. Offensive Weapons Bill. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Mental health workers 'facing rising tide of assaults'
New figures showing that Scotland’s mental health workers face a rising tide of assaults are “just the tip of the iceberg,” a union has warned. There were 8,519 incidents resulting in injury in the country’s mental health facilities in 2017/18 – equating to almost one an hour.
Morning Star. The Herald. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Student performers are being abused
Joint research by the Musicians’ Union (MU), Equity and the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has revealed one in two music, dance and drama students are at risk from bullying and discrimination, including sexual harassment. Out of the 600 students who responded to the survey, just over half said they had experienced some sort of incident in the course of their study, with over 50 per cent of those affected choosing not to report their concerns.
Musicians Union news release. Dignity in study report. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Firms must be forced to tackle sexual harassment, says MPs
Businesses, government and regulators are failing to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace, MPs have found. The parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee has published a five-point plan to deal with the problem and has called for new laws to protect workers.
Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee news release and 25 July 2018 report. TUC news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Huffpost. The Independent.
TUC Know Your Rights leaflet about sexual harassment and guide for union reps. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Unions welcome code of behaviour for parliament
Unions representing journalists, parliamentary staff and civil servants have welcomed a new code of behaviour for parliament prepared by a cross-party working group. The group, which proposes the creation of a new independent complaints and grievance procedure, was set up in November 2017 to create a grievance process.
House of Commons news release. NUJ news release. Prospect news release. Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Call for Barclays to pay victims of work sex assault doctor
Barclays is under pressure to provide quick compensation to 126 former employees who say they were sexually assaulted by a doctor hired by the bank. The bank lost a legal bid to escape liability for the claims in the Court of Appeal.
Financial Mail on Sunday. BBC News Online. Newcastle Chronicle. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

USA: Hotel ‘hands off’ anti-harassment rules take effect
Celebrating what they called a “cultural shift” for women workers’ rights, union activists and city officials gathered on 1 July to mark Chicago’s implementation of an ordinance requiring hotels to provide panic buttons for employees to report harassment. Hotels are now required to supply portable panic buttons for workers who “clean, inventory, inspect or re-stock supplies” alone in guest rooms or restrooms, allowing them to send out alerts when they feel threatened.
Chicago Sun Times. CBS Chicago News. Hands off pants on website. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: More prison officers resigning as violence soars
The number of prison officers resigning from their jobs has more than doubled in the last two years amid soaring levels of violence and self-harm in UK jails. Ministers have been accused of driving a crisis in prisons after an analysis of official figures revealed one in 16 officers resigned last year, compared with one in 33 officers two years before and just one in 100 in 2009/10.
The Independent. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: New union resource tackles sexual harassment
Sexual harassment at work is a trade union issue – that’s the strong message in a new ‘Workplace guide to dealing with sexual harassment’ produced by the linked unions BECTU and Prospect. “The message to employers is clear: cultivating a respectful workplace is the single most valuable protection against sexual harassment and other unwanted behaviours,” Prospect and BECTU note.
BECTU news report and guide. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Body cams for paramedics in Wales after attack spike
Paramedics in Wales could soon wear body cameras after a spike in ambulance staff being attacked. Paramedic Nathan Holman, the GMB branch secretary for the Welsh Ambulance Service, said the move would help to improve safety and increase prosecutions.
BBC News Online. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Labour will end 'scourge' of sexual harassment at work
Labour will clamp down on the ‘scourge’ of sexual harassment at work and make it easier for victims of discrimination to take their companies to an employment tribunal. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the party would ban the use of non-disclosure agreements to silence victims of sexual assault.
Labour Party news release. The Independent. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: A third of women have faced sexual harassment at work
A third of women have experienced workplace sexual harassment, a survey conducted by the union Prospect has found. The ‘disturbing’ findings indicate many forms of sexual harassment are still prevalent across the UK workforce, the union said.
Prospect news release and guide on sexual harassment at work. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: Award for assaulted ambulance worker who inspired campaign
An ambulance technician who suffered a harrowing sexual assault before using her experience to campaign successfully to improve the law has been given a special award. Sarah Kelly, who works for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS), was handed the Eleanor Marx special award at GMB’s annual congress in Brighton.
GMB news release. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: UNISON calls time on violence and abuse at work
A UNISON violence at work charter has been launched officially in the Houses of Parliament. In a blog posting to mark the 11 June event, which was attended by dozens of MPs, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said the charter is “a list of ten basic actions which employers can take to improve safety at work – including training, support for victims of violence and monitoring of incidents.”
UNISON news release and related post. UNISON violence at work charter and campaign briefing. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Asia: Female garment workers for Gap and H&M routinely abused
Pressure to meet fast fashion deadlines is leading to women working in Asian factories supplying Gap and H&M being sexually and physically abused, according to unions and labour rights groups. More than 540 workers at factories that supply the two retailers have described incidents of threats and abuse, according to two separate reports from  Global Labour Justice on gender-based violence in Gap and H&M’s garment supply chains.
Global Labour Justice news release and Gap and H&M reports. Fashion United. The Guardian. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Global: Marriott workers demand action on sexual harassment
Union members from Marriott hotels in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and the Americas came together in Geneva on 29 May to call for action to end the ‘endemic sexual harassment’ that plagues the industry. Global union IUF, the federation covering hospitality unions, said surveys around the world have indicated that a large majority of hospitality workers - up to 89 per cent in some countries - have experienced sexual harassment in the course of their working lives.
IUF news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

 

Britain: One in ten school staff exposed to sexual misbehaviour
Disturbing new figures from the union GMB show more than one in ten school support staff who responded to a survey have experienced sexually inappropriate behaviour from pupils. GMB said the ‘shocking’ statistics come from its nationwide survey of members, which found the abuse was leaving some staff intimidated and ‘mentally scarred’.
GMB news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

USA: McDonald’s workers describe rampant harassment
Cooks and cashiers at McDonald’s fast food restaurants in eight US states have filed 10 complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging they have faced sexual harassment, assault and retaliation for raising concerns at work. Complaints from the McDonald’s workers were filed with financial support from the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, a $21 million charity launched in January to support low-income workers who want to report sexual harassment.
National Women’s Law Center news release. Washington Post. Bloomberg News. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

USA: Most firms still failing to address sexual harassment
Fewer than a third of working Americans (32 per cent) believe their employer has taken new measures to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. APA found that according to employees, the most common action taken was simply reminding employees of existing sexual harassment training or resources (18 per cent).
APA news release. Workplace sexual harassment: Are employers actually responding? APA, 15 May 2018. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Pupils and staff left exposed to violence in Scottish schools
Pupils and school staff in Scottish schools are being put at risk as a result of the failure of some schools to act on information about violent and disruptive pupils, teaching union NASUWT has said. The union is concerned that schools are ‘failing in their duty to record and address all incidents of serious pupil violence and disruption’.
NASUWT news release. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Afghanistan: Ten journalists killed in a single day
Unknown gunmen killed Ahmad Shah, a journalist with BBC Afghan service, on 30 April, making it the deadliest for media in the country as nine other journalists were killed earlier in the day in a suicide attack in Kabul. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joined the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) in strongly condemning the targeted killing of Shah and demanded swift action from the authorities to arrest and punish the killers.
IFJ news release. BBC News Online. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Union calls on MPs for action on workplace sexual harassment
A change to the law may be needed to prevent sexual harassment at work, Prospect’s Marion Scovell has told an influential committee of MPs. The union’s head of legal was one of the expert witnesses called to give evidence to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee as part of their inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace.
Prospect news release and evidence to the Women’s and Equalities Committee inquiry. House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into sexual harassment at work and latest evidence session. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Union welcomes move to ‘protect the protectors’
The union GMB is celebrating a double victory after the 'protect the protectors' Bill won cross-party support from MPs last week – with new measures to punish sexual attacks on emergency workers added to the draft law. The union-backed Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill introduces a new offence of common assault against an emergency worker and requires courts to treat attacks on emergency workers as an aggravating factor when sentencing.
GMB news release and related release on the increase in attacks on ambulance workers. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Sex attacks on ambulance workers soaring
The union GMB is calling for tough action after shocking new figures revealed sex attacks on ambulance workers have more than tripled in the last five years. GMB national secretary Rehana Azam said: “GMB is calling for sexual assaults to be included in this new legislation to help give our ambulance staff the reassurance they need to get on with the job.”
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Voluntary sector campaign against work violence wins backing
A UNISON campaign to tackle violence against workers in the voluntary sector is attracting wide support. The union’s community service group says 18 organisations have now signed up to the UNISON violence at work charter.
UNISON news release and  Violence at Work Charter. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Shopworkers policing age-restricted sales need more protection
Shopworkers told to enforce age-limits on restricted products like alcohol need better protection, their union has said.  Paddy Lillis, Usdaw’s general secretary elect, said: “Age-related sales are a cause for concern amongst our retail membership, because they bring with them the very real risk of abuse, legal sanctions, and disciplinary action.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

USA: Union calls for hotel auditions to be banned
Acting auditions should no longer take place in hotel rooms or homes, the leading US actors' union has said. SAG-AFTRA, which organises the Screen Actors Guild Awards, has called for an end to the practice “to help protect members from potential harassment.”
SAG-AFTRA news release and Four Pillars of Change initiative. BBC News Online. TeenVogue. ITUC action toolkit on the campaign for an ILO standard on gender-based violence. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Steep rise in reported assaults against NHS staff
Physical assaults on NHS staff in England rose by nearly 10 per cent last year compared to 2015/16, according to new research by UNISON and Health Service Journal (HSJ). UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “Across the entire NHS, staff shortages are harming patient care and helping to create a hostile environment where health workers are increasingly at risk of being assaulted.”
UNISON news release. NHS Employers news release. Evening Standard.
TUC violence at work guidance. Hit list: TUC violence and abuse reporting form, Hazards magazine. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Abuse of transport staff surges after minister’s ‘terrorists’ comment
London transport workers have faced a wave of racist abuse and threats after security minister Ben Wallace suggested the workforce had been infiltrated by terrorists. RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, commented: “The union understands that the first senior London Underground managers knew of this story was when they were contacted by reporters and we hope that Tube managers and the Mayor will support and protect staff facing threats and abuse as a result of the coverage.”
RMT news release. London Evening Standard. Daily Mail. Morning Star. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Usdaw presses for Scottish shopworker protection law
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw and businesses are supporting a new law to protect workers in Scotland. Labour MSP Daniel Johnson is promoting a Bill that would create new offences regarding assaults on shopworkers and others, like bar and pub staff, who are involved in the sale and supply of age-restricted good and services.
Usdaw news release and Not part of the job website. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Intelligence failure puts pupils and staff at violence risk
Pupils and school staff are being put at risk as a result of the failure of some schools to share information about violent and disruptive pupils, teaching union NASUWT has said. The union said “in too many cases adequate risk assessments are not undertaken of pupils who persistently display high levels of aggression and violence in school.”
NASUWT news release. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Equity launches ‘safe spaces’ campaign
Actors’ union Equity has launched a ‘safe spaces’ campaign to tackle what it says is an entertainment industry sexual harassment ‘crisis’. The union says its campaign aims to give members “the confidence to challenge inappropriate behaviour and to report it knowing that the union is always there for them.”
Equity news release, Creating Safe Spaces poster and Agenda for Change. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Harassment victims silenced by 'corrosive' work cultures
Victims of sexual harassment at work need better protection because their voices have been silenced by “corrosive” workplace cultures, a report has said. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it had discovered “truly shocking” examples of sexual harassment.
EHRC news release and report, Turning the tables: ending sexual harassment at work. TUC news release. Unite news release. NUJ news release. Morning Star. The Independent. BBC News Online. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Union action call after sharp rise in corner shop crime
A sharp rise in convenience shop crime had spurred a renewed union call for action. The call from retail union Usdaw came after latest Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) figures revealed nearly a million thefts from UK convenience stores in 2017, a 65 per cent increase on the previous year.
ACS news release. Usdaw news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Serious concerns about abuse of parliamentary staff
Civil service union Prospect has said bullying and harassment is never acceptable in any workplace. The union was commenting after BBC Newsnight exposed widespread bullying and harassment of clerks and committee staff in the House of Commons, with some senior MPs implicated.
Prospect news release. BBC News Online. Bullying, harassment and intimidation in the House of Commons, BBC Newsnight, 8 March 2018. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Equity acts on sexual harassment crisis
Equity is demanding a safe working environment for its members. The actors’ union says they must not have to endure or observe sexual harassment, adding that perpetrators must understand there is nowhere to hide.
Equity news release. Agenda for Change: Equity’s report on sexual harassment. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Violence against shopworkers increases ‘significantly’
Surveys by a retail trade group and the shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw have both revealed a disturbing increase in violence against retail staff during 2017. John Hannett, the Usdaw general secretary, commented: “Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected.”
Usdaw news release. BRC news release. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Action threat over assaults on prison officers
The threat of violence against prison officers could lead to industrial action unless they ‘are given the tools to keep them safe’, their union POA has said. The union was speaking out after what it described as “another weekend of chaos and assaults in prisons”.
POA news release. ITV News. BBC News Online. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Sexual harassment at work is violence against women
Sexual harassment is a form of violence against women, and it’s happening in our workplaces all the time, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has said, adding stopping it is a trade union priority. In a TUC blog article she notes that “before the media attention, before women felt able to say #metoo in their thousands, trade unions were supporting members in their workplaces, fighting for dignity at work, and campaigning to end violence and harassment in all forms.”
TUC blog. ITUC action toolkit on the campaign for an ILO standard on gender-based violence. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Australia: Women report 'shocking' treatment at work
Less than a third of Australian working women feel they are being treated equally, and one in 10 report they have experienced sexual harassment, according to a landmark national survey. Researchers at the University of Sydney surveyed more than 2,000 women and 500 men across Australia aged between 16 and 40 for the Women and the Future of Work study into women's attitudes and experiences in the workplace.
University of Sydney news release. ABC News. Sydney Morning Herald. The Guardian. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Australia: Claim nurse’s murder not work-related is questioned
The family of Australian nurse Gayle Woodford, who was murdered while on-call in the outback, is challenging an official ruling that her death was not work-related. An ABC documentary has challenging the conclusion and says bereaved family members are “angry” and “insulted” by the decision by the South Australia safety regulator that her death was not work-related
ABC News online. Final Call, Australian Story. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Harassment of staff rife in Scottish parliament
One fifth of Scottish parliament staff - including almost one in three women - have experienced sexual harassment or sexist behaviour while working at Holyrood. The parliament published the results of a confidential survey of MSPs and staff which received input from more than 1,000 workers.
Scottish parliament news release. BBC News Online. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

USA: School unions call for prevention after gun tragedy
School unions in the US have called for action to prevent further gun deaths, after 17 people were killed and another 16 injured in a 13 February attack by an excluded former pupil. Randi Weingarten, president of the teaching union AFT, said that with 18 school shootings this year in the US, one had to wonder “when is enough enough?”, adding the union “will continue to fight to prevent gun violence from becoming the new normal in our schools.”
EI news release. AFT news release. NEA news release. The Pump Handle. Statement by President Donald Trump. Statement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and related speech. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: MPs launch inquiry into workplace harassment
MPs are to examine the use of non-disclosure agreements as part of an inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace. The Women and Equalities Committee will also investigate how to protect staff and make it easier for them to report abuse are among other issues that will be examined.
Women and Equalities Committee news release. BBC News Online. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Action on harassment in parliament ‘not enough’
Unite, which represents hundreds of MPs staff, has welcomed the 8 February publication of a report into tackling the bullying and harassment in parliament. Unite national officer Siobhan Endean said: “The working group has made real progress into starting to tackle the widespread bullying and harassment of parliamentary staff,” but she added: “While the working’s group remit did not include the recognition of trade unions, it is crucial to ensuring that members can receive assistance at an early stage and issues can be quickly and properly resolved, without workers feeling their working lives are a misery and feel forced to resign.”
Statement from Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom, Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy, Hansard, 8 February 2018. Unite news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Global: Media workers call for end to impunity as 82 die
At total of 82 journalists and media staff were killed doing their jobs in 2017, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has said. ‘Time to end impunity’, the global media union’s report, said the number of work-related killings of journalists fell to their lowest level in a decade, but added “the death toll in journalism remains unacceptably high.”
NUJ news release. IFJ news release and report, Time to end impunity: Journalists and media staff killed in 2017. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Global: New violence and harassment risks in digital technology  
Workers in ‘digitised’ working environments are facing new psychosocial risks and problems with work-related violence and harassment, a study for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has found. University of Leicester business professor Phoebe Moore said: “This includes the ’gig economy’, automation practices and algorithmic management, people analytics, computerisation, wearable tracking. Overall, it’s about the use of big data and quantification to make selective, predictive and prescriptive decisions related to work, workers, and the workplace.”
ILO news release and report, The threat of physical and psychosocial violence and harassment in digitalized work, ILO ACTRAV, February 2018. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Violence injuries in education shoot up
The number of serious injuries suffered by education staff in attacks has shot up by 24 per cent compared to five years ago, the union GMB has said. GMB national officer Karen Leonard said: “Throughout 2018 we will be asking schools to sign up to GMB’s code of conduct to ensure attacks on members, when they happen, are dealt with properly."
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Sexual harassers can’t hide behind secrecy clauses
Non-disclosure agreements must not be used to prevent sexual harassment and other workplace abuses being exposed, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has said. “Scaring workers into staying silent cannot become common practice.”
The Guardian. Tackling sexual harassment in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, TUC, July 2016. Protection from sexual harassment, TUC, November 2017. It’s not OK: Sexual harassment at work is more blue collar than red carpet, special report, Hazards, December 2017. Hansard, 22 January 2018. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Union protection is ‘best antidote’ to sexual harassment
Unions play a crucial role in empowering workers to resist sexual harassment, London School of Economics (LSE) researchers have found. LSE professors Sarah Ashwin and Naila Kabeer found organisations working in partnership with local trade unions or worker representatives are more likely to succeed in addressing sexual harassment and violence.
LSE blog. Tufts Labor website. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

USA: Las Vegas hotel housekeepers press for panic buttons
The union representing tens of thousands of hotel workers in Las Vegas is to ask casino-resort operators to give every housekeeper a “panic button” as it begins negotiating new contracts amid the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct. Leaders of the Culinary Union will bring the request to the bargaining table this month, on behalf of the more than 14,000 housekeepers who work on the Las Vegas Strip and the destination’s downtown area.
Culinary Workers Union Local 226. National Post.
Tackling sexual harassment in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, TUC, July 2016. Protection from sexual harassment, TUC, November 2017. It’s not OK: Sexual harassment at work is more blue collar than red carpet, special report, Hazards, December 2017. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Concern for shopworkers at another shoplifting rise
Retail union Usdaw has questioned whether police cuts are contributing to an increasing in crimes, including shoplifting. The union’s general secretary John Hannett was commenting after the Office for National Statistics revealed a 10 per cent increase in incidents of shoplifting recorded by the police in the year to September 2017.
Usdaw news release. Police recorded crimes in England and Wales for year ending September 2017, ONS, January 2018. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Violent crime payouts to shopworkers cut by half
The number of retail workers receiving criminal injury compensation after a violent crime at work has almost halved since the government introduced cost-cutting changes, research by Usdaw has found. The retail union said its analysis of the impact of restrictive changes in November 2012 to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) “show that applications for compensation by the union on behalf of members injured by a criminal have almost halved, down by 47.4 per cent.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Teaching assistants face daily violence in schools
Teaching assistances are facing daily verbal and physical abuse from pupils, GMB has said. The union, which represents more than a third of support staff, told the BBC Radio 5 Live programme it wants schools to adopt a code of conduct on handling pupil violence against staff.
BBC News Online and BBC 5 Live programme. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Sexual harassment is rife in hospitality, survey shows
Nine out of 10 hospitality workers have experienced sexual harassment at work, according to the preliminary finding of a new survey by Unite. The initial findings of the union’s #NotOnTheMenu survey reveal that of those respondents who had experienced sexual harassment, 56.3 per cent said that they had been targeted by a member of the public and 22.7 per cent said that they had been harassed by a manager.
Unite news release and #NotOnTheMenu survey. Financial Times. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Presidents Club exposes need for sexual harassment laws
The abuse of women hospitality workers at a glitzy men-only London charity dinner shows the need for stronger laws to protect workers from sexual harassment, unions Unite and Prospet have said. They were speaking out after the Presidents Club, which counted billionaires, celebrities and politicians among its high-society patrons, was forced to close down after an undercover journalist for the Financial Times reported how hostesses recruited by an agency were routinely groped and sexually harassed at the charity’s fundraising event.
Unite news release. Prospect blog. Financial Times. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Sexual harassment widespread in theatre industry
Almost a third of theatre professionals in the UK have been sexually harassed at work, according to a survey. The Stage magazine asked over 1,000 people working in the industry for their experiences, with 31 per cent saying they had suffered sexual harassment.
BECTU news release. The Stage. BBC News Online. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Staff safety fears at Wrexham super-prison
Staff at Wrexham's £250m super-prison have claimed it is unsafe, less than 12 months after it opened. The Prison Officers Association (POA) told BBC Wales a “culture of fear” existed among staff at HMP Berwyn.
POA news release. BBC News Online. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: New bid to protect retail workers from violence
A member of the Scottish parliament has launched a consultation on his plan for a new law to protect shop and bar workers from violence. Labour MSP Daniel Johnson is seeking views on a member’s bill to create new offences around the assault and abuse of workers who sell age-restricted items such as alcohol and cigarettes.
Usdaw news release. Not part of the job consultation website. BBC News Online. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Global: Half of women journalists suffer violence at work
Almost one in two women journalists have suffered sexual harassment, psychological abuse, online trolling and others forms of gender-based violence (GBV) while working. Overall, 85 per cent say no or inadequate action has been taken against perpetrators and most workplaces do not even have a written policy to counter such abuses or provide a mechanism for reporting them.
IFJ news release. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Survey exposes bullying of staff by MPs
Research by the BBC has found almost a quarter of staffers working for MPs have been bullied at Westminster, with 1-in-7 of all those responding saying they had suffered at the hands of the MP for whom they worked. The findings came in responses to a questionnaire sent by BBC 5 live to all staff publicly listed as working for MPs in parliament.
BBC News Online and related article. Updated ministerial code. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Shop worker murdered for enforcing the law
A 16-year-old boy who is alleged to have attacked a shop worker who refused to sell him cigarette papers has been arrested on suspicion of murder. DI Ian Lott, who is leading the investigation, said: “A man has lost his life for no reason other than trying to uphold the law.”
Metropolitan Police news release. The Guardian. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Scottish emergency services staff assaulted routinely
Attacks on emergency service workers in Scotland have reached a three-year high, according to new official figures. A total of 6,509 common assaults were recorded on police, fire and ambulance workers across Scotland in 2016/17, equivalent to more than 17 per day.
BBC News Online. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Parliamentary harassment plan got good enough
A 21 December 2017 statement by leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom on progress by the working group on bullying and harassment in parliament reveals not enough progress has been made, unions have said. The statement commits parliament to a new independent complaints and grievance procedure.
Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy, Hansard, 21 December 2017. Unite news release. NUJ news release. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Global: Sexual harassment at work is a chronic health problem
Workers who are subject to sexual harassment at work suffer more sickness and are at risk of a wide range of serious health problems as a consequence, a new report has said. ‘It’s not OK’, a special report from Hazards magazine, notes: “Sexual harassment is an everyday fact of working life for many women, too ordinary to interest the media and too scared or concerned for their jobs to cry for help.”
It’s not OK: Sexual harassment at work is more blue collar than red carpet, special report, Hazards, December 2017. Risks 830. 16 December 2017

Britain: Insecure workers face more sexual harassment
Two fifths of women and a fifth of men in the UK say they have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour at work, an in-depth poll for the BBC has found. The ComRes Sexual Behaviour Survey for BBC News also fond that in those in flexible work - including zero hours contracts, self-employed, freelancer and gig economy workers – 43 per cent had experienced some form of sexual harassment at work, compared to 29 per cent of those with permanent jobs.
BBC News Online. ComRes Sexual Behaviour Survey. Personnel Today. Risks 830. 16 December 2017

Britain: Warning on sexual harassment at Xmas parties
Employers should be extra vigilant during the office Christmas party season, when sexual harassment can be a particular problem, the TUC has said.  Polling for the TUC discovered 1 in 7 victims of sexual harassment said it took place at a work social event.
TUC news release and resources: Protection from sexual harassment, TUC, November 2017.  Tackling sexual harassment in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, TUC, July 2016.  Still just a bit of banter?, TUC, August 2016. Risks 830. 16 December 2017

Britain: Local authority fined after social workers assaulted
A local authority has been fined after two of its social workers were assaulted on a home visit by the mother of a vulnerable child. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 3 July 2015, two social workers employed by the London Borough of Brent visited the home of a vulnerable child to carry out a child safety plan assessment.
HSE news release. Risks 829. 9 December 2017

Global: Unions call for strong rules on violence at work
Trade unions have reiterated their call for a strong International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention to tackle gender-based violence at work. Next year’s ILO Conference in June will discuss the development of international labour standards on violence against women and men at work.
ITUC news release and portal on gender-based violence. ETUC news release and Safe at Home, Safe at Work project. Risks 828. 2 December 2017

Britain: Post-Weinstein firms need a 'respect at work' clause
Employers in film and TV production should introduce a ‘respect at work’ clause into all contracts to promote workplaces free from bullying and harassment, the union BECTU has said.  The proposal is set out in a letter to several key industry bodies and highlights the problems freelancers face when they experience bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment.
BECTU news release and blog, It's not ok - and you don't have to put up with it. Risks 828. 2 December 2017

Britain: Body cameras not the answer to attacks on firefighters
The use of body cameras is not the right response to a sharp increase in attacks on firefighters, their union FBU has said. The union was commenting after new Home Office figures revealed an 18.6 per cent increase in attacks on firefighters.
FBU news release. Telegraph and Argus. Risks 828. 2 December 2017

Britain: Union protection needed against parliamentary bullying
A confidential Unite survey of members employed by MPs and Lords has revealed a ‘toxic’ working environment, with many staff suffering stress and bullying. The survey undertaken by Unite’s parliamentary and constituency branch found that almost a fifth (19 per cent) of respondents had suffered bullying by either their MP or a line manager.
Unite news release and petition calling for trade union recognition of parliamentary and constituency staffRisks 828. 2 December 2017

USA: Unions challenge ‘rampant’ worker abuse
The headline-grabbing sexual harassment cases in politics, the media and entertainment are just a small indication of the ‘rampant’ abuse of workers, with low paid workers frequently the hidden victims. Chicago hotel workers this month celebrated a new ‘Hands Off Pants On’ ordinance it says will protect them from harassment.
Unite Here Local 1 news release. Slate. CBS Chicago News. ‘Hands Off Pants On’ ordinance.
Economic Hardship Reporting Project. In These Times 27 May 2011 article on the Dominique Strauss Kahn case. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Britain: Shopworkers want legal protection from violence
Shopworkers are calling on the government to introduce an additional penalty for those who assault workers in the course of their duties. The union is also urging members to ‘report it to sort it’ after its survey found that 56 per cent of shopworkers who experienced violence, threats or abuse at work did not report the incident to their employer, and over a fifth (22 per cent) of those physically attacked did not report the assault.
Usdaw news release and related release. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Canada: Unions welcome work harassment and violence law
Canada’s unions have welcomed a proposed law to address harassment and violence at work. The Canadian federal government said the ‘three pillars’ of the proposed legislation, which would cover federally-regulated staff, are prevention, responding to incidents and providing support to those affected.
CLC news release. Unifor news release. Canadian government news release. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Global: Workplace bullying and violence linked to diabetes
Workplace bullying and violence may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, for both men and women, according to new research published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD). The authors say: “As both bullying and violence or threats of violence are common in the workplace we suggest that prevention policies should be investigated as a possible means to reduce this risk.”
Tianwei Xu and others. Workplace bullying and violence as risk factors for type 2 diabetes: a multicohort study and meta-analysis, Diabetologia, pages 1–9, published online 13 November 2017. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Violence against shopworkers is rising - Usdaw
New statistics have revealed a ‘shocking’ jump in incidents of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers. Retail union Usdaw launched its interim survey findings to mark its annual Respect for Shopworkers Week.
Usdaw news release. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Bus safety concerns ‘swept under the carpet’
Transport for London (TfL) has swept concerns about the health and welfare of bus drivers under the carpet, Unite has said. The union was commenting on the publication of TfL’s official response to a London Assembly report, ‘Driven to Distraction’.
Unite news release. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: ‘No confidence’ in parliament’s harassment working group
Unite’s parliamentary branch has expressed ‘deep concern’ over the lack of staff ‘voice’ in a working group proposed by the leader of the House of Commons to tackle harassment, bullying and abuses of power in parliament and the constituencies. Replying to a letter dated 9 November from MP Andrea Leadsom that outlined the process and composition of the working group, the branch warned that the make-up of group, comprising 10 parliamentarians and two staff representatives, would lead to staff having ‘no confidence’ in the group’s results.
Unite news release. Morning Star.
Unite petition calling for union recognition for parliamentary staff. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Equity seeks solutions to sexual harassment crisis
Performers’ union Equity is launching an investigation into practical ways to combat sexual harassment and the fear of disclosure in the theatre, film, TV, audio and new media industries. The union, which has existing agreements with all the major employers in the industry, says it is uniquely placed to create meaningful change.
Equity news release. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Stamp out abuse in the media industry
Journalists’ union NUJ has said it is crucial that the workplace cultures that allow predatory behaviour and sexual harassment to flourish are dismantled. Michelle Stanistreet, the union’s general secretary, said: “Such abuse of power needs to be stamped out.” In a statement, she added: “Newspaper and broadcasting organisations have a duty of care for their employees and people who work for them and it’s time they took that seriously.”
NUJ statement. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Lone workers 'targeted’ as they leave Tube depot
A night Tube driver was attacked after returning his train to the depot sidings in the early hours after duty. Finn Brennan, district organiser for the rail union ASLEF, called for greater security at depots where trains are left overnight, saying the latest incident follows others on the Victoria line.
Evening Standard. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Ambulance chiefs contest ‘lenient’ sentence on attacker
An ambulance service is challenging an ‘extremely lenient’ sentence given to a man who attacked two paramedics. Amy Holtom, a paramedic with West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS), suffered a broken wrist while treating a man in Birmingham city centre.
WMAS news release. Birmingham Mail. Coventry Telegraph. Manchester Evening News. BBC News Online. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Bus drivers face ‘shocking’ abuse, spitting and physical assaults
London’s bus drivers face shocking levels of abuse, spitting and physical assaults as they go about their job, a Unite survey has revealed. The union announced the survey findings as it launched a new London-wide campaign against assaults on the capital’s 25,000 bus drivers.
Unite news release. Morning Star. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Emergency worker attacks Bill moves forward
A bill to double the maximum sentence for common assaults on on-duty emergency workers to one year has successfully started its progress through parliament. Labour MP Chris Bryant’s Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill received cross-party support during a 20 October debate, passing its second reading unopposed.
Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill, House of Commons second reading, 20 October 2017. RCN news release. UNISON briefing on the Bill. Morning Star. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Call for protection for bus drivers after firework attack
Unite has renewed its call for better protection of bus drivers after Youtube footage emerged of a driver being attacked with a firework. In the attack on a London bus, a group of youths fired a firework into the bus which hit the driver’s cab before ricocheting around the bus.
Unite news release and YouTube footage. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Rise in attacks on public service staff is ‘tip of iceberg’
The Scottish government and all public service employers should take action immediately in order to tackle the “massive scale of the problem of violence against public sector workers”, UNISON Scotland has said. The call came as the public service union’s annual violence at work survey revealed a further increase in reported assaults on public service workers.
UNISON Scotland news release and Violence at work survey 2017. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: ‘Zero tolerance’ needed on verbal abuse in schools
Schools must take incidents of verbal abuse from pupils seriously and adopt a zero-tolerance attitude, a teaching union leader has said. Addressing the annual conference of NASUWT Cymru in Cardiff, Chris Keates said: “The NASUWT’s research into pupil behaviour shows that 61 per cent of teachers in Wales had experienced verbal abuse from a pupil in the previous 12 months.”
NAWUWT news release. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Union links rise in shoplifting to police cuts
Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett has questioned whether police cuts are having an effect on crime. He posed the question after latest figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed an 11 per cent increase in shoplifting, continuing an upward trend from 2012.
Usdaw news release. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Tougher sentences for attacks on emergency staff
Attacks on emergency workers will result in tougher sentences under a new law that has been given government backing. Chris Bryant's private member's bill would double the maximum sentence for common assault against an emergency worker to a year.
Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill 2017-19. BBC News Online. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: Charity and voluntary workers facing violence
Almost half the staff (47 per cent) working for charities and housing associations have experienced violence or aggression, either from people who use their services or from colleagues, according to a UNISON survey In response to the abuse facing its members, UNISON has launched a charter that commits voluntary sector organisations to comply with their duty of care to staff when it comes to violence in the workplace.
UNISON news release. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: Usdaw welcomes cross-party bid to protect shopworkers
Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett has welcomed an early day motion, with cross-party support, calling on the government to introduce legislation providing an additional penalty for those who assault workers in the course of their duties. The Usdaw general secretary said: “Usdaw members welcome the support of MPs for a change in the law to ensure that proper punishments are given out. We must give a clear message that assaulting workers who are serving the public is totally unacceptable.”
Usdaw news release, including case histories. Sign up for Usdaw’s Thunderclap during Respect for Shopworkers Week, 13-19 November 2017. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britai: Equity challenges casting couch culture
Allegations of sexual harassment and serious sexual assaults against film mogul Harvey Weinstein have exposed the unacceptable pressures women frequently face in the entertainment industry, UK actors’ union Equity has said. The union is promoting its recently launched Manifesto for Casting, “to inform the entertainment industry of the standards it demands of all those engaged in the casting and employment process.”
Equity news release. BBC News Online. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: Cuts put mental health staff in violence frontline
Reduced funding for mental health services across the UK is leaving staff vulnerable to violence and aggression from patients, and means they cannot provide the level of care needed, the union UNISON has said. The union’s report, ‘Struggling to cope’, found more than two in five (42 per cent) said they had been on the receiving end of violent attacks in the last year.
UNISON news release and Struggling to cope report. BBC News Online and 5 Live Investigates. The Observer. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Britain: Fresh GMB push for Our Protectors Bill
The GMB has made a renewed call for a law to make assaults on emergency workers in the line of duty an aggravated offence. The union, which says there were assaults on 1,000 firefighters, 2,400 paramedics and over 2.4 million police officers last year, is urging MPs to support Chris Bryant’s Assault on Emergency Staff Bill.
GMB news release. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

Britain: Sexual harassment at work causes depression
Sexual harassment at work is bad for mental health, according to a new study. Researchers in Denmark found 1 per cent of more than 7,600 employees working for over 1,000 different organisations were sexually harassed by a supervisor, colleague or a subordinate, while 2.4 per cent suffered the same treatment from someone else they dealt with at work.
Maria K Friborg and others. Workplace sexual harassment and depressive symptoms: a cross-sectional multilevel analysis comparing harassment from clients or customers to harassment from other employees amongst 7603 Danish employees from 1041 organizations, BMC Public Health, published online 25 September 2017. The Independent.
TUC guide to your rights on sexual harassment, union reps’ guide to addressing sexual harassment and report, Still just a bit of banter?  Everyday Sexism Project and ‘shouting back’ platform. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: TUC poll finds racism is rampant at work
More than a third (37 per cent) of black or minority ethnic (BME) workers have been bullied, abused or singled out at work, according to research published by the TUC. The polling is part of a major new TUC report on racism at work.
TUC news release and ‘Is Racism Real?’ report. Face it: We are all sickened by inequality at work, ITUC/Hazards, March 2017. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Britain: Cabin crew facing rise in abuse on UK flights
An airline industry code of conduct on disruptive passengers is failing to stem the tide of drunken and anti-social behaviour at UK airports and on flights from the UK, according to the union Unite. Its survey of over 4,000 cabin crew working for British-based airlines found that 87 per cent of respondents had witnessed drunken passenger behaviour at UK airports or on flights from UK airports. 
Unite news release. BBC News Online and ‘Plane drunk’ Panorama documentary. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

Britain: Act now to end Scottish rail violence
The Scottish government must act now to improve security and staffing levels on some rail routes to help combat rising anti-social behaviour and criminality, the train drivers’ union aSLEF has said. The union has told Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf its members are ready to refuse to work on high risk services unless something is done.
ASLEF news release. The Scotsman. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

Britain: School staff routinely victims of attacks at work
Almost a third of school support staff have been injured in a violent attack at work and many report they are attacked on weekly basis, a survey by the union GMB has found. The union says the ‘disturbing statistics’ from its nationwide survey of members found almost one in five support staff (18 per cent) experience violence on a weekly basis, and nearly a third (30 per cent) have been injured in violent incidents at school.
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Britain: Tube staff strike for victimised work violence victims
Tube workers at London Bridge station have taken industrial action in a further protest against the sacking of a member of staff and the disciplining of two others. The RMT members working for London Underground (LU) staged the 24-hour strike from 10pm on 7 May in response to LU’s blame-the-worker behaviour after an incident in which a fare-dodger was violent towards staff.
RMT news release. The Telegraph. Morning Star. Evening Standard. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: Union calls for security guards to protect store staff
Shopworkers’ union Usdaw is calling for higher levels of security in shops, particularly small convenience stores. The union call came after latest figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales revealed that shoplifting is continuing to rise, increasing by 8 per cent during 2016, contributing to a 21 per cent increase over the last decade.
Usdaw news release. Morning Star. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: Teachers abused online by parents and pupils
Nearly one-third of teachers report being abused online over the past 12 months, with half of those targeted saying parents, not just pupils, were behind the abuse. A UK-wide survey of over 1,500 teachers conducted by teaching union NASUWT found 31 per cent of teachers reported being abused online over the last year, of which 50 per cent said they had been abused by a parent, with one in five (20 per cent) of the messages posted by parents included explicit threats.
NASUWT news release. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: Union slams 'deplorable' attack on firefighters
The firefighters’ union FBU has condemned a violent attack on two on-duty firefighters who were threatened with an imitation firearm. The union said the ‘deplorable’ incident took place on 10 April in Spalding, as the firefighters tackled a house fire.
FBU news release. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Britain: Union fury at Tube bosses for firing attack hero
Tube union RMT has reacted with fury after London Underground (LU) upheld the ‘disgraceful’ sacking of a staff member who intervened to stop a violent fare dodger from assaulting colleagues at London Bridge last autumn. RMT is already balloting station staff across the London Bridge group for industrial after the member was fired and two others were disciplined for stepping in to stop the serious assault on colleagues, including one who was pregnant.
RMT news release. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Britain: Unions join forces to fight abuse at work
Collective bargaining from trade unions can play a key role in tackling violence against women, campaigners have said, but they add the government must also take action. Delegates at the TUC women’s conference heard how Britain has some of the highest levels of workplace violence against women in Europe.
Speech by TUC head Frances O’Grady to the TUC women’s conference. Morning Star. TUC guide to reporting workplace violence. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Britain: Thefts from shops are serious crimes, says Usdaw
Retail union leader Usdaw has welcomed a clarification from Thames Valley Police, after a report in the Telegraph suggested the force “will not send out officers to deal with shoplifters who steal goods worth less than £100”.  A statement from the police force noted: “The Force would like to reassure communities that all reports of shoplifting are investigated - regardless of the value of goods stolen. In cases in which there is an immediate threat, such as a shoplifter becoming violent, the public can be assured that officers will be there for who need help.”
Usdaw news release. Thames Valley Police statement. The Telegraph. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Canada: Delays put armoured car workers and public at risk
A further delay in implementing a Canadian Ministry of Labour ruling is putting the safety of armoured car workers and the general public at risk, the union Unifor has said.  “The directives in the original order recognised that the use of two-person, all off crews elevates the danger of armoured car personnel being attacked in public, which also increases the risk to innocent by-standers,” said Mike Armstrong, Unifor’s lead for the armoured car industry.
Unifor news release. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Britain: Union charter to tackle violence at work
Workers in the community should not fear violence, the union UNISON has said. The union’s community service group conference agreed to launch a ‘Violence at Work Charter’ which would see employers commit themselves to “a series of interventions”.
UNISON news release. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Britain: Banker fined a week's wages for spitting on bus driver
A bus driver who was spat on by an investment banker in a fit of road rage has spoken out after the £90-000-a-year Barclays executive was fined one week’s wages. The incident happened after father-of-three Leon Delahaye, 44, pulled out in front of Alexis Fountzoulas’ black Mini in London’s Piccadilly Circus on 26 June last year, a court heard.
London Evening Standard. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

Britain: Usdaw ‘appalled’ as attacks on shopworkers soar
The shopworkers’ union Usdaw has called for urgent preventive action after latest figures showed a sharp upturn in violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures reveal a 40 per cent increase in incidents of violence and abuse against retail staff.
BRC news release. Usdaw news release. Morning Star. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Britain: 'Alarming' rise in attacks on school staff in Wales
Teachers and school staff in Wales have been the victims of more than 1,500 physical and verbal attacks by pupils every year, new figures have shown. Teaching union NUT Cymru had responses from 17 of Wales' 22 local authorities to freedom of information (FOI) requests.
NUT Cymru news release. BBC News Online. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

USA: Workers win move towards a violence standard
A union call for a new official rule to protect workers from violence is moving forward. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the USA’s federal safety regulator, told a stakeholder meeting it was accepting the petitions submitted by unions to the Department of Labor last year and would commence rule making on a workplace violence standard to protect workers in health care and social assistance.
AFL-CIO Now blog. OSHA workplace violence webpages. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Britain: NHS staff should not have to work in fear
The sharp increase in the number of violent assaults against health service employees in England – up by over a fifth in the last five years – is completely unacceptable and requires urgent government action, public service union UNISON has said. Latest figures published by NHS Protect show that in 2015/16 there were 70,555 violent incidents involving health workers, compared to the 57,830 reported five years ago - a 22 per cent increase.
UNISON news release. NHS Protect statistics 2015/16. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Global: Addressing occupational violence affecting women
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has published a report putting a ‘gender lens’ on the issue of violence prevention in the workplace. The report summary says it “reviews the international literature and a selection of regulatory instruments with respect to occupational violence - work-related violence involving incidents in which a person is physically, psychologically or sexually assaulted, threatened, harassed, bullied or mobbed in circumstances relating to their work.”
Addressing occupational violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens, ILO, November 2016. Risks 779. 3 December 2016

Global: Ending violence against women at work
Unions are putting the issue of violence against women at work high on their safety agenda. IndustriALL assistant general secretary Jenny Holdcroft said: “More trade unions need to adopt strong policies against violence in the workplace, which can be used to educate all their members about what is and what is not acceptable treatment of women.”
IndustriALL news release. ITUC statement and campaign for an ILO Convention to stop gender-based violence at workITUC gender-based violence at work campaign webpage and campaign guide. Risks 779. 3 December 2016

Canada: Violence universal in health care
According to healthcare workers interviewed this year by a Canadian health care union, the health and well-being of the individuals devoted to caring for health seems to be increasingly at risk from angry, frustrated, or out of control patients. Researchers from the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)/Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) note that every one of the 150 registered practical nurses (RPNs) from across Ontario attending a conference on violence this year reported that they have been assaulted at work.
The Bullet. Risks 776. 12 November 2016.

USA: California nurses win violence prevention standard
A set of trailblazing regulations to prevent workplace violence in California’s hospitals and health care facilities have gained unanimous approval from the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board. The rules were issued under 2014 legislation backed by the union California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CAN/NNU).
CNA/NNU news release. Politico. Risks 774. 29 October 2016

Britain: Scotland’s public sector faces soaring violence
Violence against Scotland’s public service workers has doubled in a decade, union research has found. UNISON’s Violence at Work Survey 2016 shows recorded violent assaults have risen from 20,000 to over 40,000 per year over the last decade, the highest level since the annual survey began in 2006.
UNISON Scotland news release and Violence at Work Survey 2016. Risks 774. 29 October 2016

Britain: Tube strike ballot ‘inevitable’ over attacks on staff
Tube staff are set to vote on strike action after confirming an increase in attacks in the wake of the closure of ticket offices. Rail union TSSA is in a dispute with Transport for London (TfL) as a result of London Underground (LU) ticket office staff being relocated onto station concourses.
TSSA news release. London Evening Standard. Risks 773. 22 October 2016.

Global: Campaign against gender-based violence at work
Global trade union confederation ITUC is warning that gender-based violence is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. The union body is calling for a new global standard on prevention,  noting: “Trade unions are taking action to end gender-based violence at work and are campaigning for a new international labour Convention to tackle the various forms of gender-based violence that occur in the world of work,” through the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
ITUC gender-based violence at work campaign webpage. Join the campaign! Risks 771. 8 October 2016

Britain: BBC audio exposes rail firm’s dangerous dirty tricks
Rail staff employed by Govia Thameslink are being abused and assaulted by enraged passengers as a result of the company’s ‘lies and abuse’ to cover up their own gross mismanagement of train services, the union RMT has said. As proof, the union points to a ‘shocking’ BBC audio recording of staff “being spat at, punched and threatened with stabbing due to a constant barrage of company lies about the reasons for the constant chaos across the franchise.”
RMT news release. Risks 762. 6 August 2016

Unions demand action on prison safety crisis
Prison unions are calling for urgent action over alarming new figures they say expose the true scale of the safety crisis in prisons in England and Wales. The unions say latest Ministry of Justice figures released show that prison staff are increasingly the victims of the safety and staffing crisis.
‘Safety in Custody’ report. POA news release. Community news release. Risks 762. 6 August 2016

Britain: Legal win will protect prison officers
Prisoners can now be prosecuted for attacks on prison workers, after a union-backed High Court case. In a landmark victory for the prison officers’ union POA, the court ruled last week that it is important to be able to prosecute prisoners for acts of violence committed against prison officers while serving time in prison, as a way of protecting prison officers and prisoners.
Thompsons Solicitors news release.
TUC violence at work guidance. Hit list: TUC violence and abuse reporting form, Hazards magazine. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Usdaw calls for an end to post referendum abuse
The shopworkers’ trade union has expressed deep concern about reports of threats and abuse against migrant workers and people from minority ethnic groups has called for “calm and respect.” Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said: “It is deeply disturbing that some people have taken the vote to leave the EU as a green light to abuse others who they believe don’t have the right to be in the country,” adding: “Usdaw reps have for many years been providing support for members who face violence, threats and abuse and they will continue do so in this challenging period after the referendum.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Teaching assistants face violence and threats routinely
Teaching assistants are routinely facing threats and violence from pupils and their parents, according to a new report from the union UNISON. School support staff blame shoddy disciplinary policies, staffing cuts and a lack of training for the abuse.
UNISON news release. UNISON guide: Managing Difficult Behaviour in Schools. Morning Star. Risks 756. 25 June 2016

Britain: Lone Ladbrokes staff face horrific risks
Betting firm Ladbrokes has been accused of putting “profits before lives” after one lone worker was killed and a second was raped, the Mirror has reported. Former head of health and safety Bill Bennett, who the paper says has turned whistleblower, alleged: “Ladbrokes chose to prioritise profit over the health and safety of its employees.”
The Mirror. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Britain: Lone Ladbrokes staff face horrific risks
Betting firm Ladbrokes has been accused of putting “profits before lives” after one lone worker was killed and a second was raped, the Mirror has reported. Former head of health and safety Bill Bennett, who the paper says has turned whistleblower, alleged: “Ladbrokes chose to prioritise profit over the health and safety of its employees.”
The Mirror. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: Fearful prison officers refuse work at Wormwood Scrubs
Prison staff at Wormwood Scrubs jail staged a 6 May work refusal over health and safety concerns. The union POA said its members had “individually chosen” not to enter the prison “as they have fears for their health and safety.”
POA news release. TUC news release. The Guardian. Morning Star. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Britain: UK prison system in crisis as violence soars
An alarming rise in violent incidents has sparked warnings the prison system is failing prisoners and staff. Figures released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) have revealed that violence has increased in the past 12 months and, in some cases, is close to double the rates from 2010, with prisoner on staff assaults up from 3,640 in 2014 to 4,963 in 2015, an increase of 36 per cent.
Safety in Custody statistics, MoJ, 28 April 2016. POA news release. Howard League for Penal Reform news release. The Independent. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Tackling prison fight cost worker her job
A former prison worker has been awarded £140,000 after a six-year legal battle with the prison service following an injury that ended her career. While working at a London young offender’s institute, the POA member had been restraining a prisoner after a fight had broken out.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Britain: Have you experienced sexual harassment at work?
Recent TUC polling indicates that sexual harassment is still rife in many workplaces. As part of its project on sexual harassment in the workplace, the TUC would now like to hear about your experiences of sexual harassment. It has prepared a short online survey where you can describe your experience. The information you share will be treated in confidence and the survey can be completed anonymously.
TUC news alert. Take the survey now. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Britain: Usdaw scoops top safety campaign award
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has won a top award from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust for its Freedom from Fear campaign, recognising the union’s achievements in improving personal safety. The Trust’s National Personal Safety Awards recognise the work being done across the UK to keep people safe from violence and aggression and highlight best practice in the field.
Usdaw news release. Suzy Lamplugh TrustRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Ireland: Death threats against journalists condemned
The Irish prime minister Enda Kenny and the media union NUJ have condemned the threats made against a number of journalists in the Republic of Ireland. The threats follow two killings in a gangland feud in Dublin.
BBC News Online. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Higher fines should spur safety improvements
New sentencing guidelines recommending much higher fines on firms that break health and safety laws should increase the pressure on unsafe employers ‘to clean up their act’, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said to make the system work better, there should also be more resources for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to cover the costs of bringing more cases to court.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: ‘No excuse’ for widespread violence at work
One in eight people has experienced violence at work, according to new research published by the TUC. The poll over of over 1,600 adults carried out by YouGov for the union body, which has launched a new guide, reveals that 12 per cent of people have experienced work-related violence such as being pushed or spat on, punched or stabbed.
TUC news release, violence at work guidance and reporting form. Morning Star.
Hit list: TUC violence and abuse reporting form, Hazards magazine. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Britain: Unions back TUC violence action call
Unions representing health and retail workers have backed a TUC call for action to stem the widespread violence directed at workers. UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said the figures confirmed “the level of violence against medical and health care workers is unacceptably high” and John Hannett, general secretary of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, said: “All too often criminals who assault staff are not even sent to court, and those who are can receive derisory sentences.”
UNISON news release. Usdaw news release. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Global: Unilever and unions in harassment agreement
Global soaps-to-snacks manufacturer Unilever has joined IndustriALL and IUF, the international trade unions representing the company’s union workforce, in a joint commitment to prevent sexual harassment in its workplaces worldwide.
IUF and IndustriALL news releases and joint statement. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Britain: Action call after sharp rise in retail violence
Retail union Usdaw has called for action to prevent violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers after the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported a sharp rise in incidents during 2015. Trade body BRC found offences involving abuse or violence against shopworkers were up by 28 per cent.
Usdaw news release. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Britain: Education staff under attack at work
Forty-three per cent of education staff have had to deal with physical violence from a pupil in the last year, according to a survey by the teaching union ATL. The union says of those who have experienced physical violence from a pupil: 77 per cent reported they had been pushed or shoved; 52 per cent had been kicked; 50 per cent had an object such as furniture thrown at them; and 37 per cent had been punched.
ATL news release. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Britain: Massive increase in railway race hate crimes
Race hate crimes on Britain’s railway networks have risen by 37 per cent in the past five years, an average of more than five reported incidents of abuse or harassment a day. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “These are truly shocking figures and match up with the reports that RMT members are feeding back to the union from the sharp end..”
RMT news release. The Guardian. Risks 737. 6 February 2016


 

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