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It’s our victory – ILO adopts new global standards to combat violence and harassment in the world of work

26 June 2019 Editorial
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The IUF wholeheartedly welcomes the adoption on June 21 of new global standards on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. The Convention and Recommendation, adopted at the 2019 International Labour Conference, are the outcome of sustained mobilization and lobbying by trade unions.

“Throughout the process, IUF staff and affiliates have organized to pressure governments to support the process and lobbied companies to go on record with their support. This success belongs to them,” commented IUF General Secretary, Sue Longley.

While employer representatives tried to restrict the content and application of the instruments, many governments were supportive although Russia abstained in the final vote.

The Convention and Recommendation affirm that everyone has the right to work free from violence and harassment, link this to the right to equality and non-discrimination and underline the gender-based foundation of violence and harassment. Their scope ensures that working people in a whole variety of situations – job seekers, workers in employer-provided accommodation, workers travelling to their jobs – in all branches of employment, formal or informal, are protected. Collective bargaining as a key role in the adoption and implementation of such inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approaches to prevent and eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work is also affirmed.

Of particular importance to IUF affiliates in the hospitality sector is the recognition in the Convention that workers have to be protected from violence and harassment by ‘third parties’, including clients, customers and service providers. It calls on governments, in consultation with workers and employers, to identify “sectors or occupations and work arrangements in which workers or other persons concerned are more exposed to violence and harassment”. The Recommendation spells out that these should include workers in isolated environments like plantations and hospitality workers.

A particularly hard fought battle was the successful push to ensure that the Convention recognized the impact of domestic violence in the world of work. It also calls for concrete measures in response, including through collective bargaining.

Photo © Crozet / Pouteau