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Workplace abuse on the rise: ILO

is costing untold billions of dollars in losses through the absenteeism and sick leave which it provokes, said the UN labour agency.

india Updated: Jun 16, 2006 13:51 IST

Bullying and other forms of mental abuse in the workplace are on the rise worldwide, the International Labour Organisation has warned in a report.

The problem has reached "epidemic levels" in some countries and is costing untold billions of dollars in losses through the absenteeism and sick leave which it provokes, said the UN labour agency.

"Today, the instability of many types of jobs places huge pressures on workplaces, and we're seeing more of these forms of violence," the ILO said.

In the European Union, the ILO estimates that nine per cent of workers suffer from some form of mental harassment every year.

"That means that more than 15 million people are affected by psychological violence in Europe alone," Vittorio Di Martino, one of the authors of the report, told reporters.

In Spain, an estimated 22 per cent of civil servants were victims of "mobbing" -- when a group of workers targets an individual for harassment -- the study found.

In poor countries, the most vulnerable workers were women, migrants and children.

"Widespread sexual harassment and abuse were major concerns in South Africa, Ukraine, Kuwait and Hong Kong," among others, the study said.

While physical violence was declining, it remained a problem in some nations, said the ILO: in the United States, homicide was the third cause of death at work, with 700 fatalities a year.