European Federation of Journalists

ETUC says new research shows need for EU whistleblower protection law

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) issued today a press release calling for an EU-wide whistleblower protection. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is a member organisation of the ETUC and fully supports the following statement. The EFJ is encouraging individuals and organisations to sign its petition on the issue.

The EU can and should do a lot more to protect workers who come forward and blow the whistle on wrongdoing.

Legal protection for whistleblowers throughout  the EU is a complicated maze of protections and the various civil liability laws mean that some people may be penalised and held personally liable if they came forward. The lack of legal protection against persecution means that whistleblowers are subject to reprisals from employers which can be devastating for  their careers and livelihoods.

Welcoming a new survey by Transparency International showing 35% of EU citizens would be afraid of retaliation or a negative backlash from reporting corruption.

Esther Lynch, ETUC Confederal Secretary  said: “Workers’ calls for protection cannot be ignored any longer. Secrecy is a breeding ground for wrongdoing and sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

“We are calling on the EU to introduce a robust set of legal rights, to protect workers in the public or private sector, so that they can disclose and report matters such as malpractice, misconduct, the violation of laws, rules, regulations, damage to health, safety or environment concerns, corruption and fraud and the ‘cover up’ of wrongdoing.  

Employees who report wrongful conduct by their employers must be protected from all forms of reprisals including blacklisting.

“Without legal protection whistle-blowers can be victimised. They risk being demoted, dismissed, or pressured to resign, their positions abolished or transferred. Workers have been isolated, physically and personally, often put into an office with no work at all; others subjected to constant scrutiny and given impossible tasks to perform; while others face threats and disciplinary actions, subject to internal inquiries, adverse reports and other legal threats”.

“A common outcome for whistleblowers is to resign because of ill health caused by the victimisation. It is understandable then that many workers often decide to keep quiet about their concerns rather than report them.”

Lynch called for whistleblower protection to be included in the forthcoming ‘Pillar of Social Rights’ to be proposed in the new year by the European Commission.

The ETUC was instrumental in the launch of a trade union and civil society alliance for whistleblower protection.