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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

International Women's Day: The struggle for maternity rights must continue!

Posted to the IUF website 08-Mar-2007

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Launch of world-wide actions on maternity protection

One of the very first Conventions adopted by the ILO was on maternity protection (C3 - 1919), an indication that the international community at that time recognised its importance.

In 2000, a revised Convention on Maternity Protection was adopted (C183) after very tough negotiations. The Workers Group struggled hard to prevent the employers' considerably watered-down version from going through.

Seven years later, only 12 of the more than 100 governments who voted in favour of the convention have actually ratified it: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belize, Bulgaria, Cuba, Cyprus, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia. With the Republic of Moldova, which did not participate in the vote, the number of ratifications are today 13.

While the Convention is very explicit on Employment protection and non-discrimination, open or veiled discrimination against women because of pregnancy and maternity continues everywhere and is being reinforced by the proliferation of precarious forms of employment.

Therefore it is more crucial than ever that the struggle for maternity protection and rights becomes a priority for the world-wide trade union movement.

You can contribute to this struggle by:

1. actively campaigning for the ratification and implementation of the ILO Convention 183 in your country.
2. making sure that maternity protection is part of the collective bargaining agenda with the conditions laid down in C183 and the accompanying Recommendation 191 as a minimum.
3. sharing information about progress made in the area of maternity protection.

Sources and resources:

In the Asia/Pacific region, sub-regional workshops have been held on maternity protection. You can read more about the results of those workshops by visiting the website of the IUF Asia-Pacific Regional Office:

The full texts of Convention 183 and Recommendation 191 can be found at the following links: C. 183 and R. 191 .
If you wish to find out more about your country's maternity protection provisions you can go to the ILO Labour Standards (NATLEX) database.

A kit on maternity protection produced by the ICFTU (now ITUC, by PSI and EI) is also available.

For more information on the maternity protection click here to visit the "Unions for Women, Women for unions" campaign website.