The ITUC is calling on governments to commit to a world of work free from violence and harassment

On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 25 November, trade unions around the world are urging governments to ratify and implement the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 190 and Recommendation 206, to end the scourge of gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work.

by [ITUCCSI->]

The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the risks of violence and harassment, both at work and at home, and has highlighted the importance of strong preventive and protective measures to ensure safe, healthy, dignified and respectful working environments.

There have been alarming reports of health and care workers and other frontline workers, such as food retail workers, transport workers and cleaners, being targets of violence and harassment by employers, co-workers or anxious customers, clients, and patients.

Rates of domestic violence have spiked since the onset of this crisis – a phenomenon described by the United Nations as a shadow pandemic as many workers, in particular women, required to work from home find themselves trapped with their abusers. At the same time, the rise in teleworking leaves workers more exposed to technology-enabled harassment such as cyberbullying.

Women working in the informal economy, whether as street vendors, market traders, waste pickers, home-based workers, or domestic workers, have seen their livelihoods devastated as they face increased violence and harassment from employers, members of the public or local authorities. In some cases, their activities have been criminalised.

Trade unions have played a crucial role in addressing gender-based violence during the pandemic by:

Unions have also joined calls for immediate food and safety relief and social protection coverage for informal economy and migrant workers, including those stranded away from home, and an end to violence, harassment and criminalisation. On 25 November, we show our solidarity with women working in the informal economy, who are the backbone of so many national economies.

The ILO Violence and Harassment Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 provide a clear framework for governments, employers and workers and their representatives on how to effectively prevent, address and remedy violence and harassment in the world of work. These instruments also provide important guidance on mitigating the impacts of domestic violence in the world of work.

While the pandemic has necessarily focused the attention of governments on dealing with the public health, economic and social impacts, the pandemic is a reason to push forward with ratification, rather than delay it further. Ratification and effective implementation of these instruments should be an integral part of a sustainable recovery and building resilience in the face of this and future crises.

Uruguay and Fiji have led by example, becoming the first two countries to ratify the Convention. Argentina is set to become the third. Now more governments must follow suit!

On 25 November, we urge governments globally to fulfill the commitments made at the Centenary International Labour Conference in June 2019 to a world of work free from violence and harassment.