ILO Convention 190 (C190) supplemented by Recommendation 206 concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work, 2019 is a milestone that will shape future labour reforms globally. It is the first legally binding international standard for workers, which deals solely with the issue of violence at work, and recognises gender-based violence.
It is an excellent example of the power and opportunity of tripartism, a mechanism, which enabled the adoption of C190 as a truly inclusive, progressive and practical international standard. The Convention makes it clear that everyone has a right to a world of work free from violence and harassment!
Convention 190, supplemented by Recommendation 206, is the first ever legally binding international standard for workers, which deals solely with the issue of violence at work.
Around 6,300 delegates, representing governments, workers and employers from the agency’s 178 member states, attended the International Labour Conference held in Geneva in the centenary year of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) from 10-21 June 2019. Of the 476 delegates given voting rights, 439 voted for the adoption of the standard, seven voted against, and 30 abstained. These votes brought this historic international standard into existence.
How did we get here?
Convention 190 is an international standard that was long overdue. The issue of addressing violence at work became part of the ILO agenda in 2015, after a continuous global campaign and lobbying by Global Unions and civil society organisations. In the campaign to secure the Convention, ITF affiliates in all regions made a significant contribution, through national lobbying of governments, campaigning to raise awareness and support, and providing evidence about the impact of violence against women transport workers. ITF Women had a strong delegation at the ILC discussions in 2018 and 2019, playing an important role within the workers’ group to achieve the language that is critical for transport workers.
What does it include?
The Convention was won at a time when global movements like #Metoo and #Timesup have been shifting the paradigm of how we respond to the issue of violence, how we engage with institutions on the issue of violence, and how we set accountability reaffirming that personal is political! The new ILO standard addresses the need for accountability and creates a mechanism for an institutional response to violence.
In order to do that, Convention 190 does three important things:
- Firstly, it defines what violence and harassment means – the line between violence and harassment is often blurred. The Convention defines harassment and violence under one definition and sees it as a range of behaviours. It also includes gender-based violence and harassment.
- Then, it deals with who is protected by the Convention – this truly inclusive Convention identifies the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment. It covers interns, volunteers and job seekers along with employees. Furthermore, it applies to all sectors, whether private or public, both in the formal and informal economy, and in urban or rural areas. Transport is particularly recognised.
- And it looks at what a workplace is – and makes it clear that the world of work goes beyond the workplace, and includes incidents in the course of, linked with or arising out of work – including places where the worker uses sanitary facilities, and when commuting to and from work. This is a significant achievement for all transport workers.
The Convention also addresses third party violence to ensure accountability. This is crucial with the changing nature of jobs, the rapidly growing gig economy and a very large number of unorganised workers. It also recognises the effects of domestic violence and the need to mitigate the impact of domestic violence in the world of work.
What do we need now?
We have come a long way and there is a lot to celebrate, but our work is far from over! The Convention is a historic opportunity to shape a future of work based on dignity and respect, free from violence and harassment. To make this powerful document a living reality, we need governments to ratify and implement the Convention and Recommendation. We need to continue lobbying for broad ratification of the Convention.
How do we do it?
The ratification campaign needs to be rooted in local actions to lobby governments. We need to make continued efforts to spread awareness, to work collectively with alliances, and to integrate the Convention’s language in union policies and in our workplace agreements. We should utilise every opportunity to start a dialogue about Convention 190!