The International Labor Rights Forum celebrates the International Labour Organization’s adoption of both a Convention and a Recommendation on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. The historic treaty passed today at the ILO’s centennial assembly in a 439-7 vote, with 30 abstentions. This is the first international standard specifically aimed at addressing these issues in the workplace – and it’s all because of the tireless organizing by unions and worker centers around the world.
Last week we wrote about three critical elements that the labor side fought to include in the Convention and Recommendation; all three are covered in the new standard:
- The Convention establishes protection for ALL types of workers regardless of contractual status, including workers in the informal economy.
- The “world of work” includes protection for workers on the commute to and from work.
- Both the Convention and Recommendation defend the right to collective bargaining as a crucial tool to stop gender-based violence.
Now, the struggle must continue. An international standard is only valuable when it can be leveraged to protect workers on the ground in real time. Each individual country must now ratify the Convention, and unions are already preparing for country-level campaigns to get their elected officials to vote in support of it.
While governments have a specific process for ratification, that doesn’t mean action needs to wait on the legal process. And multinational corporations should not wait for new national laws to implement strong policies against gender-based violence in their supply chains.
For information on actions that businesses can take in their workplaces and in their supply chains on this important issue, we recommend the following resources:
- Global Labor Justice and Asia Floor Wage Alliance’s new report, “Gender Justice on Garment Global Supply Chains: An Agenda to Transform Fast-Fashion,” which provides a road map for fast fashion brands on how to end gender-based violence on garment production lines
- Asia Floor Wage Alliance’s recommended safe circle approach in preventing GBV
- Human Rights Watch: “Combating Sexual Harassment in the Garment Industry”
- International Labor Rights Forum’s report, “Time for Change: Advancing Legal Protections on Gender-Based Violence at Work” – in particular, see the recommendations in the conclusion
- AFL-CIO’s toolkit: “Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace”