The outcome of ten years concerted campaigning by trade unions and allied civil society groups, the new ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment (Convention 190) and Recommendation (R206) are wide-reaching labour standards.
The Convention defines violence and harassment as a range of unacceptable behaviours and practices, and focuses on the harms that may be caused, whether physical, psychological, sexual or economic. Ratifying governments will be required to adopt legislative and policy measures to prevent, expose and remedy gender-based violence and harassment, including defining clear lines of responsibility.
The Convention recognises the specific nature of gender-based violence and harassment. Its scope includes all public and private, formal and informal and urban and rural workers, irrespective of contractual status. The Convention also expands the concept of the world of work to include work-related trips, travel or social activities and cyber-bullying. It recognises that violence and harassment can involve third parties, including parents and other members of the public. The impact of domestic violence is also specifically taken into account.
Marie Clarke Walker, Secretary Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress, was the workers’ spokesperson at the tripartite negotiations during the ILO Conference. She highlighted that the goal of the Workers’ Group was to ensure that the Convention and Recommendation would leave no one behind and to ensure protection for workers with multiple and intersecting identities: “whether it is age, disability, race, ethnicity, indigenous status or sexual orientation and gender identity, every person should feel that the Convention and Recommendation covers them.”
The Convention will enter into force 12 months after two member States have ratified it. The Recommendation provides guidelines on how the Convention can be applied.
Haldis Holst, Education International Deputy General Secretary, welcomed the adoption of the new Convention and Recommendation. “We celebrate this victory at the ILO and EI now calls on governments to commit to the swift ratification of the convention and its effective implementation. We still have much work to do in order to realise everyone’s right to a safe environment, free of violence and harassment”, she stated.