Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 22: Violence

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HealthWiki > Workers' Guide to Health and Safety > Chapter 22: Violence


a man with a knife and 1 with a bat speaking to a woman who has fallen to the ground.
We told you to stop making trouble.
I’ll show you how women like you are treated!

Violence, both as a threat and as an act, harms the physical and mental wellbeing of workers, their families, friends, co-workers, and communities. Bosses sometimes use threats and physical, verbal, and psychological violence to keep factory workers fearful and docile, and to stop workers from demanding change. Workers may also face violence from other workers or community members who use violence to impose power over others. Whether attacks come from other workers, supervisors, paid thugs, or the police or military, stopping violence is rarely achieved by one worker alone. Organization is the one essential element of every successful struggle against workplace violence. When workers are unified they can:

  • improve interactions among workers and supervisors in the factory, minimize yelling and public humiliation as management practices, and end hitting and physical violence as ways to control workers.
  • demand that employers respect workers’ rights to organize unions and to improve working conditions, pay, and benefits.
  • form committees to train workers in self-defense, to travel home from work in groups, and to document violence and demand justice.
  • stop the boss and other workers from sexually harassing or attacking women and men employees.
  • create a workplace free from violence, where finding solutions to disagreements is done respectfully, involving workers and management equally.