ILO passes landmark measure against violence and harassment in the workplace


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On Friday, June 21, 2019, the International Labour Organization (ILO), an arm of the United Nations that sets internationally recognized labor standards, took a historic step forward by adopting a new landmark convention against violence and harassment in the workplace.

Convention 190, which will be binding for governments that ratify it, was passed by a wide margin of votes on the final day of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) annual conference of governments, employers and workers.

“This is truly a momentous moment for workers all over the world,” said UAW President Gary Jones.  “The UAW has been, and always will be, a tireless defender of workers rights. The right to a safe and harassment-free work environment is doubtlessly a human right as well. Therefore, the UAW wholeheartedly stands with the ILO in supporting the new standards and protections of Convention 190. We urge the timely ratification of this measure.”

The UAW has a long, proud history and has been a vocal supporter of this urgently needed measure, which represents a victory for workers and unions around the world. It is the first international instrument that addresses these issues specifically. In fact, only a few countries provide broad protection against violence and harassment in the workplace.

“The dignity of the rights in the workplace demands that workers can be free from violence and harassment of any kind at work,” said UAW Vice President and Director of the UAW Women’s Department, Cindy Estrada. “Organized labor led by the UAW understands that all workers deserve this common sense protection both at home and at work.”

Governments use ILO conventions to draft and implement laws and regulations. Employers use them to establish international best practices and labor unions use them to advocate for better protections at work.

The measure covers not only physical, but also psychological, sexual or economic harm, and recognizes the particular impact on women and girls and the need for a gender-responsive approach which will address the causes of GBV (gender stereotypes, discrimination, unequal gender-based power).

The new standard extends protections to workers and employees, irrespective of their employment status, and includes persons in training, interns and apprentices, and volunteers. It covers violence and harassment occurring in the workplace; places where a worker is paid, takes a rest or meal break, or uses sanitary, washing or changing facilities; during work-related trips, travel, training, events or social activities; work-related communications (including information and communication technologies), in employer-provided accommodations; and when commuting to and from work.

The measure also recognizes that violence and harassment may involve third parties.

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