European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions
Together for decent work and fair pay from farm to fork

European Trade Union movement demands explicit recognition of arduous work


Arduous work refers to those occupations involving the exposure of the worker over a period of time to one or several factors leading to professional situations susceptible to leave long-lasting and irreversible effects on his/her health; this specific type of work still exists in all sectors of European economies and has a substantial negative impact on the physical and/or mental health of numerous workers. Against this background European Trade Union Federations are demanding European policy makers to take action and recognise the need of a decent life quality for all these employees.

In 2013-2014 the ETUC and the European Trade Union Federations conducted a joint European research to assess the reality of arduous occupations. At the same time the study identified a list of European and national actions, which could lead to a better prevention and compensation of arduous work.

On 13 November the European Trade Union Confederation and the European Industry Federations (EFFAT, IndustriAll Europe, UniEuropa, ETF, EPSU and the EFBWW), organised a workshop seminar aimed at presenting and discussing the reality of arduous occupations and its European challenges.

The workshop seminar presented testimonies from workers, describing their day-to-day work. Our colleagues NNF from Denmark presented a testimony of what is like to work in a slaughterhouse.

Discussions ensued with the panel members, including Mrs. Jutta Steinruck, Member of the European parliament (S&D), Mrs. Zinta Podniece, European Commission, DG Employment, Mrs. Ana Isabel Martinez Garcia, project coordinator SYNDEX and Mrs. Esther Lynch, Confederal Secretary ETUC.

The seminar concluded on:

·         the need for an explicit recognition of arduous work and

·         the essential further cooperation on this matter between the ETUC and the European trade union Federations.

In particular in light of the forthcoming evaluation report to be published by the European Commission next year on the European occupational health and safety legislation and the possible European inter-professional negotiations on active ageing and intergenerational solidarity.



EFFAT is the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions. As a European Trade Union Federation representing 120 national trade unions from 35 European countries, EFFAT defends the interests of more than 22 million workers towards the European Institutions, European employers’ associations and transnational companies. EFFAT is a member of the ETUC and the European regional organisation of the IUF.