In the second half of 2020, IFWEA is co-ordinating organisations from eight countries in a series of online Study Circles focusing on the ratification of the ILO Convention 190 (C190), Violence and Harassment at Work.

To find out which organisations are involved and the objectives, please click here

What is ILO Convention 190 (C190)?

A historic new Convention, which was adopted by the International Labour Organization in June 2019. It is the first ever global standard that aims to eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work.

The ground-breaking Convention covers all workers in all sectors and has a strong gender-based focus, recognizing that women are disproportionately affected by violence and harassment.

C190 applies not just to the workplace but the world of work and includes third party violence and harassment from customers, clients or service providers.

What is violence and harassment?

Violence and harassment are defined 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.

Who is the Convention aimed at?

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.

Importantly, the impact of domestic violence on the world of work is also included. This is a significant step in bringing domestic violence out of the shadows, and changing attitudes. The Recommendation also sets out practical measures, including leave for victims, flexible work arrangements, and awareness-raising.

What is the status of the Convention?

In January 2020, Uruguay became the first country in the world to ratify Convention 190. This was followed by Fiji in June 2020. Two countries have now ratified, which means  the C190 will come into force within a year after this was achieved, in June 2021.This does not mean that other countries must not ratify it, however.  When you ratify then you are obliged to report and develop mechanisms to monitor and assess progress, and the process itself enables regular dialogue and raising of voices on the issue.

Trade unions are encouraged to push for ratification of C190 and to launch their own campaigns to combat violence and harassment at work.

How have the Study Circles approached this issue?

A series of five Study Circles per organisation has been  held, each focusing on different aspects such as what is Convention 190, local legislation in relation to C190, experiences of workplace harassment, the importance of workers’ education, and how to use the IFWEA online platform. Circles have been encouraged, through participative processes, to develop educational and awareness tools to assist trade unions and worker organisations to push for ratification of C190.

How do Study Circles meet?

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions, most Circles are meeting online. However, in some cases, such as in Cambodia, participants are able to meet in person. Otherwise, platforms such as Zoom, Whatsapp and IFWEA OLA are being used.

Where are we now?

Trade unions are encouraged to push for ratification of C190 and to launch their own campaigns to combat violence and harassment at work.