Final HOSPEEM-EPSU Conference on sharp injuries – Barcelona, 20 June 2013

The joint HOSPEEM-EPSU project “Promotion and support of the implementation of Directive 2010/32/EU on the prevention of sharps injuries in the hospital and health care sector” has come to an end after a successful final conference in Barcelona. 

The final conference saw the participation of around 100 stakeholders from the 27 EU countries and high level speakers, including the European Commission. This was the occasion for HOSPEEM and EPSU to take stock of the outcomes of the regional seminars held in Dublin (31 January), Rome (7 March) and Vienna (16 April) under the project and to discuss the future steps of social partners to make the provisions of the Directive reality at the workplaces in the health care sector and thereby significantly improve the safety and security of health care staff and the patients.

Speaking at the conference, Carola Fischbach-Pyttel, General Secretary of EPSU emphasised that the Sharps Directive clearly shows how the EU Social Dialogue can deliver results which have significant impact not only at European, but also at national level. Social dialogue is an essential instrument of democracy and legitimacy for the EU social partners should not allow the current economic crisis and austerity measures to jeopardise it. Speaking about the HOSPEEM-EPSU Directive, Ms Fischbach-Pyttel highlighted that investment in healthcare is well-spent money. The quality of services and the security and safety of health care workers and patients are paramount not only for the sustainability of the EU healthcare systems but also for the competitiveness of all the European countries and their economies.

Tjitte Alkema, Secretary General of HOSPEEM, highlighted the benefits of working in partnership which lead to negotiate on a very complex subject in a short period, in spite of strong oppositions. This was only possible because of the understanding between the two Social Partners HOSPEEM and EPSU. Mr Alkema stressed that even though the deadline for transposition of the Directive into national legislation has passed, the actual work of social partners for the implementation at the workplace has just begun. A strong commitment from both sides will be essential to achieve the objectives set out in the Directive. In times when the Social Dialogue is challenged both at European and national level, HOSPEEM and EPSU need to show that social partners together can deliver in a time and cost efficient way.

The European Commission represented by François Ziegler and Francisco Jesús Alvarez Hidalgo highlighted that due to the different strains facing the EU Social Dialogue, social partners cannot afford to fail and need to show that they can deliver and implement viable solutions in an effective way. The ownership of the Directive is shared between the sectoral social partners and the European Commission and the EC will do everything possible to support their work and to monitor the effective implementation of the provisions of the directive.

The findings gathered during the conference, together with the results on the implementation progress in the EU Members states, will feed into the final report from the project that will be presented to the European Commission and disseminated soon.


Press release


Implementation of multi-sectoral guidance on third party violence in the workplace


This document provides a summary report of the discussions at the three regional workshops held as part of the project on the Implementation of the multi-sectoral guidance on third party violence in the workplace, in London on 9th May, in Rome on 14th June and in and in in Prague on 6 September 2011.

Background of the project

On 16 July 2010, EPSU, UNIEuropa, ETUCE, HOSPEEM, CEMR, EFEE, EUROCOMMERCE, COESS, representing the social partners of the commerce, private security, local governments, education and hospital sectors have reached an agreement on multi-sectoral guidelines aimed to tackle third-party violence and harassment at work.

These Guidelines have been developed following two major conferences organised with the support of the Commission in March 2008 and October 2009 at which the outcomes of a research on third-party violence were presented along with case studies and joint conclusions . Therefore, these Guidelines build on these initiatives and complement the cross-sectoral Framework Agreement on Harassment and Violence at Work of 26 April 2007.

The organisation which were party to the multi-sectoral guidelines subsequently decided to disseminate the guidelines and obtained funding from the European Commission for a project to assist with the translation of the guidance into all EU languages, for three regional seminars and a final conference to be held with the goal making the guidelines more widely known, sharing good practices in tackling third party violence in the workplace and encouraging national member organisations to think about how the guidelines will be implemented in each Member State. GHK Consulting was commissioned to assist in the moderation of these events and in the preparation of reports.

The social partners from Central Government Administration (Trade Union’s National and European Delegation and European Public Administration Employers) added their signatures to the Multisectoral Guidelines on 17 December 2018, at the Liaison Forum in Brussels. Find the press release here

FULL TEXT: Summary report regional workshops | Multisectoral Guidelines Signed (guidelines also available in FR/DE/BG/CZ/DK/EE/EL/ES/FI/HU/IT/LT/NL/PL/PT/RO/RU/SK/SL)

Strengthening social dialogue in the hospital sector in the Baltic countries

A project proposal under budget line

FULL TEXT: Project report |Riga Declaration

The project “Strengthening social dialogue in the hospital sector in the Baltic countries” has the following main objectives:

The goal of this project is to improve the dissemination of the priorities and outcomes of the European sectoral social dialogue in the hospital sector in the Baltic countries, to help share good practice on some of the core priority actions of the sectoral dialogue between EPSU and HOSPEEM, to help build the capacity of the hospital sector social partners in the Baltic countries and to assist in feeding national social dialogue interests from the “bottom up”.

Dissemination will specifically focus on the framework agreement reached at sectoral level in 2009 on needlestick injuries. Good practice sharing will relate to a priority of the work programme agreed by EPSU and HOSPEEM for 2010 and the activities of one of its working groups on skills development in the sector. Finally, the project will focus on involving employer and trade union organisations in the sector in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to help them develop their national sectoral dialogue in order to allow them to feed their own priorities, concerns and good practices to the European level.

Specific objectives

  1. To build on the activities and findings of a previous project completed in 2008 which focussed on strengthening social dialogue in the hospital sector in all new Member States. This project involved the identification of relevant social partner organisations and social dialogue processes in all EU countries, as well as providing capacity building to social partner organisations in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This new projects hopes to draw on the organisations and priorities identified in this report for the Baltic countries and provide similar capacity building measures in Latvia and Lithuania (where HOSPEEM currently has members) and to follow up contacts with relevant employers organisations in Estonia to establish if similar activities can be envisaged between the social partners in this country, which could ultimately boost the representativity of HOSPEEM in this country and to add value to the European social dialogue process.
  2. To contribute to the dissemination of the framework agreement on needlesticks by assessing its potential impact and implementation and organising a dissemination event in Latvia.
  3. To contribute to the proceedings of the working group on retention and skills development by gathering good practice examples to be discussed at a seminar in Latvia and shared at the final dissemination event.

Project context


A sectoral social dialogue Committee for the hospital sector involving EPSU and HOSPEEM was set up in 2006. Since then, this sectoral social dialogue has matured significantly and has already led to the agreement of a Code of Conduct on Ethical Recruitment, as well as, in 2009, to the negotiation of a framework agreement on needlestick injuries, which has now been transformed into an EU Directive for implementation at Member State level. In addition a number of joint text have been adopted, for example on the proposals for a Directive on Patient’s Rights in the EU. A number of working groups have also been active in recent years, which have exchanged information on mobility, retention, ageing and skills issues affecting the sector. EPSU and HOSPEEM are also part of a multi-sectoral initiative exploring the possibility of the development of a joint tool on tackling third party violence in a number of sectors.

The dissemination of social dialogue results such as the needlesticks agreement and the continuation of the exchange of information in the working group on retention and skills development are a priority of the sectoral social partners’ work programme for 2010.

In 2008, HOSPEEM and EPSU implemented a project on strengthening social dialogue in the new Member States. The goal of this project was twofold: to identify and chart social dialogue processes in the hospital sector in all Member States and to offer assistance with capacity building to trade union and employer organisations in the sector in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

EPSU and HOSPEEM are now keen to build on this experience and to run a similar project aimed at further engaging social partner organisations in the Baltic countries. HOSPEEM currently has members in Latvia and Lithuania, with EPSU represented in all Baltic countries.


Effective approaches to tackling third party violence in the workplace

A project proposal under budget line

FULL REPORT: Respect project report

Project objectives

The project “RESPECT” has the following main objectives:

Final objective

To assist employers in the hospital, local government, private security and commerce sectors, in an independent but coordinated manner with the respective trade unions, to develop an EU multi-sectoral Action Plan which will:

  • Aim to reduce the overall level of third part violence and to mitigate its negative effects;
  • Complement the 2007 cross-sectoral framework agreement adopted by ETUC BusinessEurope CEEP and UEAPME, in particular chapter 4 of this agreement;
  • Take account of health and safety regulations and existing frameworks;
  • Provide an instrument to raise awareness across Europe of the different issues concerning third party violence;
  • Confirm the responsibility of employers, in co-operation with trade unions and workers, to ensure and promote a working environment free from third party violence;
  • Identify the different measures and processes introduced by social partners to prevent and mange problems of third party violence at work;
  • Draw up principles and guidance that can support joint actions by social partners at the different levels to tackle third party violence;
  • Give examples of practical measures which can be taken;
  • Commit trade unions and employers to working together on this issue;
  • Provide a framework for monitoring, evaluation and review

Specific objectives

  1. To build on discussions at the multi-sectoral seminar on third party violence on 14 March 2008 and the multi-sectoral meeting on 4 July 2008 to gather further information on how sectoral social partners at the national level are tackling the issue of third party violence in the workplace. This should contribute to the drafting of multi-sectoral principles and guidelines at European level on how this challenge can be addressed by social partners at the local level.
  2. To assist the sectoral employers organisations involved in the process to date (HOSPEEM, CEMR, CoESS and Eurocommerce) to build up a multisectoral employers’ position and to prepare the employers’ group to eventual negotiations of a multisectoral social dialogue instrument (framework agreement or similar) on third party violence.
  3. To organise a multi-sectoral conference with around 120 participants to present the best practices gathered in the information collection exercise and to discuss the potential outline of a multi-sectoral guidance document. Possibility to launch a joint multi-sectoral declaration on the importance of the issue and key principles for tackling third party violence at workplace level and to announce the intention to prepare joint guidance or another social dialogue instrument.

Project context


According to research carried out by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions in the European Working Conditions Survey, approximately one in ten workers in the European Union report that they have suffered violence, bullying or harassment at work in the previous year (results 2005 survey).  According to data from the survey, third party violence at the hands of clients, customers or patients is more common than violence suffered at the hands of work colleagues.

Threats of violence and actual violence from third parties are most common in a number of sectors including health and social work, transport, recreational activities, public administration, air transport and education, but are also widespread in other sectors including retail and private security.

The impact on the mental and physical health of worker of such experiences is significant and ranges from distress and feelings of humiliation suffered to actual severe physical injury (or even death) and severe mental trauma often leading to long absences from work (and associated lost productivity) and difficulties with staff retention. The table below shows the significance of the problem of violence and harassment in the workplace in relation to overall absence due to work related health problems, as well as the magnitude of the number of days lost per year.


The cross-sectoral social partners BusinessEurope, ETUC, CEEP and UEAPME already recognised the importance of the issue of violence and harassment in the workplace in their autonomous framework agreement on work-related stress, signed in October 2004. Considered as one of the important sources of stress in the workplace, it was seen to be sufficiently important to warrant a separate autonomous framework agreement.

A joint seminar on harassment in the workplace was organised in 2005 as part of the 2003-2005 work programme of the cross sectoral social partners. At the same time, the European Commission launched its consultation on the issue of violence at work, which strongly emphasised the importance of tackling third party violence. In their 2006-2008 cross-sectoral social partner work programme BusinessEurope, ETUC, CEEP and UEAPME committed themselves to negotiating an autonomous framework agreement on harassment and violence. Negotiations started in February 2006 and ended in April 2007.

The agreement reached underlines that the harassment and violence are unacceptable and it is in the common interest of the social partners to address the issue as it can have serious social and economic consequences. The cross-sectoral agreement moves on to emphasise the importance of existing health and safety regulation which defines an employers’ duty to protect workers against harassment and violence in the workplace. In its introduction, the agreement specifically refers to third party violence and harassment as one of the areas to be addressed, but is not later referred to in more detail, leaving it up to national social partners to decide whether to cover this aspect in their implementation agreements.

The cross-sectoral agreement aims to raise awareness of the issue and provide employers, workers and their representatives with an action-oriented framework to identify, prevent and manage problems of harassment and violence at work. It goes on to describe the phenomenon; how to prevent, identify and manage it; as well as setting out the implementation and follow-up process of the agreement.

National member organisations of the cross-sectoral social partner are currently in the process of implementing the agreements at national level in accordance with procedures and practices specific to management and labour in the EU and EEA countries. The deadline for implementation is April 2010.

“Strengthening Social Dialogue in the hospital sector in the new Member States and candidate countries”

Project funded under budget heading (Industrial Relations and Social Dialogue)

FULL TEXT: National Reports Overview | National reports


After several years of pre-social dialogue process led by the Joint Representative Taskforce[1], the Committee on social dialogue in the hospital sector (henceforward: the Committee) will soon be established. The Committee aims to improve the quality of employment and quality of services in the hospital sector by means of constructive social dialogue.

Adequate representativity of EPSU and HOSPEEM is an important condition for success. However, social partners from new Member States are not yet very well represented in the European Social Dialogue. Moreover, the situation and status of Social Dialogue within some of these Member States leaves much to be desired. A strong national dialogue is a conditio sine qua non for adequate representativity in Europe. In turn, a high level of representativity will make the sectoral dialogue more effective at the EU level. Hence, capacity-building in the new Member States is a major priority in the work programme of the Committee.

In this project HOSPEEM, EPSU and national social partners from Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Netherlands have joined forces to strengthen the Sectoral Social Dialogue in the EU 27 and to increase representativity in the Social Dialogue Committee. They wish to remove some of the main obstacles for constructive dialogue on national and EU level. They will combine theoretical and practical methods to tackle problems of a different character, thus optimising the final project result.

Link to the objectives and priorities of the budget heading

This project is the first major initiative of the Social Dialogue Committee for Hospitals after the formalisation in September 2006. This project will support the implementation of a major issue of the work programme of the Committee, i.e. strengthening Social Dialogue in the new Member States and candidate countries. It will also help to increase the representativity of social partners in the EU Social Dialogue, especially from the employers’ side. Finally, the pilot activities will contribute to the development of the three major topics defined in the EPSU-HOSPEEM work programme 2006-2007(ageing, recruitment and retention, skill needs).

[1] The Joint representative task force in the hospital sector was founded in 2002 by members of EPSU and CEEP involved in an informal social dialogue since 1999.