End violence in the world of work: Ratify ILO Convention 190 now!


End violence in the world of work: Ratify ILO Convention 190 now!

UNI affiliates campaign to ratify International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 190

As we mark 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls, and the start of 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, UNI Global Union is standing with affiliates around the world who are doubling efforts to Ratify ILO Convention 190 and Recommendation 206.

The convention, which was fought for and won by trade unions, is the first international treaty to recognize the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment. It has so far been ratified by nine countries—with unions leading the way in many—and more most follow.

UNI Global Union General Secretary, Christy Hoffman says:

“On this day, we say: ‘We won’t wait’. We must turn back the tide of violence in the world of work, particularly violence against women. ILO Convention 190 is the tool to make this happen. We campaigned hard for this Convention and we are duty bound to make sure it is ratified and implemented. As violence and harassment has soared during the pandemic, we owe it to our members, who are on the frontlines of abuse in the service sectors, to keep fighting for a safe place to work.”

ILO Convention 190 covers violence in the entire world of work, including remote working and commuting to and from work, and third party violence including customers. 

In Sweden, a survey by trade union affiliate Handels revealed that 28 per cent of women in retail have experienced sexual harassment by a third party the last 12 months​, compared to four per cent of women in the wider labour market. Handels is now including clauses in their collective agreements to help prevent this abuse.

Head of UNI Equal Opportunities, Veronica Fernandez Mendez, emphasized the need to use the Convention now:

“Even if the Convention has not been ratified in a specific country, we, as trade unions need to ensure that its sprit is enshrined in our negotiations and collective bargaining agreements. Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 are tools that we must start using to eliminate, once and for all, violence and harassment in the world of work.”

As part of a global day of action to end violence in the retail sector, affiliates to UNI Commerce last week endorsed a declaration calling on governments and retailers to act to stop violence and harassment in commerce. Commerce unions USDAW in the UK, UA Zensen in Japan and the SDA in Australia have ground-breaking campaigns to stop violence against store workers in their countries.

ILO C190 also recognizes that domestic violence, which has soared during the pandemic, is a workplace issue and advocates measures to help protect victims, including protection against dismissal.

In South Africa, UNI affiliate SACCAWU has fought tooth and nail for ratification of ILO C190, which was approved by parliament in September 2021.

UNI Women World President, Patricia Nyman, from trade union affiliate SACCAWU in South Africa, said:

“Our experience so far is that the process of ratification and implementation requires grassroots participation and activism, commitment, and feminist leadership to ensure that the Convention does not become another sterile international standard, but that it should change the world of work in the interest of women workers.”

During the next #16 days of activism against gender-based violence that ends on Human Rights Day on 10 December, UNI is urging affiliates to:

  • Actively campaign for the ratification of C190 in their country
  • Raise awareness and promote union education to union members and society at large with these available tools
  • Mobilize around the issue of violence and harassment in the world of work
  • Build alliances with other trade unions, national centres and NGO’s to help eliminate workplace violence and harassment
  • Develop structures advocating for ratification

Share your actions over the next #16Days using these hashtags: