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FIA Warmly Welcomes the new ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment (N°190)

The Centenary Conference of the International Labour Organization  (ILO) ended on June 21st with the adoption of a widely-welcomed Convention  and accompanying Recommendation  to combat violence and harassment in the world of work. These instruments – the first of the ILO’s second century – also reaffirm the ILO’s crucial standard-setting role. They were celebrated by the ILO as tangible evidence of the enduring value and strength of social dialogue and tripartism, and the ILO also emphasised the message that social dialogue and tripartism will be essential to implementing them at national level.

The ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment establishes for the first time a global and unique right of everyone to work free from violence and harassment. The Convention would require countries across the globe to:

  •        Put in place laws that prohibit and sanction violence and harassment at work
  •     Oblige employers, after consulting workers and their unions, to have a policy for preventing and tackling violence and harassment  

Shauna Olney, Chief of the Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch at the ILO has clarified some key issues pertaining to the new Convention in an article available on the ILO website: . With regards to its scope, she highlighted that “the Convention’s focus on inclusivity is very important. It means that everyone who works is protected, irrespective of contractual status, including interns, volunteers, job applicants, and persons exercising the authority of an employer. It applies to the public and private sectors, the formal and informal economy, and urban and rural areas.

Some groups, and workers in certain sectors, occupations and work arrangements are acknowledged to be especially vulnerable to violence and harassment; for example, in health, transport, education and domestic work, or working at night or in isolated areas. The sectors specific to each country will be identified through tripartite consultation”. FIA members may wish to take up this issue in tripartite discussions, given how much the Media, Arts and Entertainment sector has been to the fore in discussions on tackling sexual harassment, particularly in the wake of #MeToo.

Ms Olney also outlined the reasoning that informed the definition of violence and harassment adopted in the convention: “Definitions vary and lines are often blurred. For example sexual “harassment” is often classified as a form of gender-based “violence”. This is why the Conference took a pragmatic approach, defining violence and harassment as “a range of unacceptable behaviours and practices” that “aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm”. This potentially covers physical abuse, verbal abuse, bullying and mobbing, sexual harassment, threats and stalking, among other things. The Convention also takes account of the fact that nowadays work does not always take place at a physical workplace; so, for example, it covers work-related communications, including those enabled by ICT.”