New international labour standard to combat violence and harassment at work agreed

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The Centenary International Labour Conference has adopted a new Convention and Recommendation to combat violence and harassment in the workplace.

The Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019, and Violence and Harassment Recommendation, 2019 recognizes that violence and harassment in the world of work “can constitute a human rights violation or abuse…is a threat to equal opportunities, is unacceptable and incompatible with decent work.” It defines “violence and harassment” as behaviours, practices or threats “that aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm.” It reminds member States that they have a responsibility to promote a “general environment of zero tolerance”. 
 
The new international labour standard aims to protect workers and employees, irrespective of their contractual status, and includes persons in training, interns and apprentices, workers whose employment has been terminated, volunteers, job seekers and job applicants. It recognizes that “individuals exercising the authority, duties or responsibilities of an employer” can also be subjected to violence and harassment. 
 
The standard 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 through information and communication technologies), in employer-provided accommodation; and when commuting to and from work. It also recognizes that violence and harassment may involve third parties. 
 
Banana Link welcomes the Convention, which we have lobbied for through the World Banana Forum Gender Equity Task Force, to help address gender based violence and sexual harassment in the banana industry. 
 
Adwoa Sakyi of our partner organisation, the International Union of Foodworkers, spoke at the conference in support of adopting the Convention, which you can see in the video below. 
 
 
The successful adoption of the Convention and Recommendation are the outcome of sustained mobilisation and lobbying by trade unions, including the IUF.
 
Throughout the process, IUF staff and affiliates have organized to pressure governments to support the process and lobbied companies to go on record with their support. This success belongs to them,” said Sue Longley, General Secretary of the IUF, which has wholeheartedly welcomed new global standards on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work.