The ratification of ILO Convention 190 (C190), designed to help eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work, has risen to an issue of importance on the Colombian public agenda. And this International Day for Decent Work, on 7 October, a group of trade unions and political figures gathered at the Congress of the Republic for a public hearing on its ratification.  

The meeting was sponsored by Congresswoman Mª Fernanda Carrascal, in response to the call of the Steering Group for the Ratification of Convention 190—including UNI Americas and its affiliates—on  advancing this convention and other measures to address gender inequality.

During the hearing, Colombian congressional representatives heard from the CGT, CTC and CUT trade union confederations, civil society organizations and global unions, including UNI, who reiterated the commitment of the union movement to the ratification of the convention. During the hearing, women shared their own experiences and those of other colleagues of harassment and violence in their workplaces. 

In the testimonies, women from various economic sectors spoke out, such as in the cleaning sector. One cleaner spoke out—with her face covered to protect her identity—because, she said, the at the atmosphere of harassment is such that such a public testimony exposes and endangers her. Despite her fear, she showed deep determination, and described how she and her colleagues will to continue organizing themselves through the support network called Limpieza con Derechos. 

Magda Alberto, office advisor for gender equality and women’s rights at the Ministry of Labour, emphasized the government’s commitment to be part of the ratification of C190. She said that the testimonies of women and their unions was a call “to settle the debt owed to workers who suffer violence and harassment in the workplace.” She also took the opportunity to announce that on 25 November, during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, they will have an elite group of inspectors trained with a gender perspective, who will be carrying out investigate workplaces in the country. 

For her part, María Laura Fino, a specialist in International Labour Standards, from the ILO highlighted the importance of the hearing as “the appropriate space to evaluate the new international labour regulations to eradicate violence and harassment at work,” where “protocols can be guaranteed to avoid physical, emotional, sexual or economic harm, that is to say, routes of reparation and awareness-raising.” 

Representative Carrascal concluded the public hearing by affirming the fundamental role of trade union organizations: “It is very important that you as trade unions and organized people lead the ratification of C190. Although it is a difficult process, today we can make a difference because we have the will, and we know the need to defend human rights”. 

This was the first public hearing held to work on the ratification of Convention 190, which aims to eradicate violence, harassment and discrimination in the workplace, taking into account that, although all workers are affected, women, migrants, Afro-descendants and LGBTIQ+ people have a differentiated impact. 

UNI Global Union, a long-time supporter of this ratification, is committed to working with our affiliates for the ratification of this convention in Colombia and beyond.

UNI Americas