C190: Fifth anniversary of the convention to tackle violence and harassment in the world of work

On 21 June, we mark the adoption in 2019 of ILO Convention no. 190 on violence and harassment in the world of work and Recommendation no. 206. This year, the ITUC calls upon trade unions, employers and governments to be galvanised by these key, democratic workplace rights.

These landmark legal instruments represent a historic moment in the global effort to ensure safe, dignified and respectful working conditions for all working people.

C190 is the first international treaty to recognise the right of every person to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment. It underscores the crucial role of a safe working environment in achieving equality, dignity and opportunities for all workers, regardless of their status or the sector they work in.

An end to violence and harassment in the world of work is also central to ITUC’s campaign For Democracy in the workplace, at both national and global levels.

Over the past five years, there has been significant progress towards the implementation of C190. Many countries have taken steps to ratify and align their national laws and policies with the convention’s provisions, reflecting a growing recognition of the need to protect workers from violence and harassment.

Freedom of association and collective bargaining have been key in bringing the provisions of C190 to workplaces, even in countries where the Convention is not yet ratified. This ITUC report features examples of trade unions that have mobilised in extraordinary ways by campaigning, advocating and lobbying for the ratification and implementation of these ground-breaking standards.

Using the provisions of C190 and R206, they have negotiated policies and collective bargaining agreements, resulting in tangible improvements towards eradicating violence and harassment in the world of work.

However, there is much work to be done. Violence and harassment at work persist and affect millions of workers worldwide, particularly women, migrants, and those in precarious employment. The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated these challenges, highlighting the urgent need for robust protections and comprehensive enforcement mechanisms.

ITUC General Secretary Luc Triangle said: “The ITUC reaffirms its unwavering commitment to the full realisation of the principles enshrined in C190. We call upon all governments to ratify and implement the Convention without delay.

“We urge employers to adopt zero-tolerance policies towards violence and harassment and to foster a culture of respect and dignity in the workplace. The role of independent trade unions is indispensable in this. They must be empowered by democratic, trade unions rights in the workplace, to allow them to advocate for working environments that are safe, respectful and equitable.

“We honour the courage and resilience of workers, particularly women workers, who have endured and continue to face violence and harassment. Their experiences and voices have been instrumental in bringing about this convention and its implementation on the ground. Let us continue to work together – governments, employers, workers, and trade unions – to build a future of work where every individual can thrive in an environment free from violence, and harassment.”