The UK and Ireland’s largest union, Unite is calling on governments and employers from across the globe to join with workers and agree a ‘historic’ International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention and recommendation on stopping violence and harassment in the world of work at the International Labour Conference.

Discussions on an ILO convention are set to enter their final stages this week between government, employer and trade union representatives at the conference in Geneva.

At present there is no international law that sets a baseline for taking action to eradicate violence and harassment, including gender-based violence, in the world of work.

The International Labour Conference is entering its second week of discussions on the introduction of such a law through a binding instrument, known as a convention. If passed, it will see the adoption of standards into international law through the ILO.

The ILO is only tripartite UN agency which brings together governments, employers and trade unions to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland who was a member of the expert panel which formulated the starting point for the draft convention under discussion said: “This week governments, employers and trade unions have a historic opportunity to agree international action against violence and harassment in the world of work, including its prevention, as well as action when it takes place. 

“Both men and women experience violence and harassment in the world of work, but unequal status and power relations in society often result in women being far more exposed.

“Gender based violence remains one of the most tolerated violations of workers’ human rights with 818 million women globally, over the age of 15, experiencing sexual or physical violence at home in their communities or in the workplace.

“Passing an International Labour Organisation convention, means the international community can start to set standards in the world and eradicate violence and harassment in the world of work.”

ENDS

For more information please contact Alex Flynn Unite head of media and campaigns on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869 alex.flynn@unitetheunion.org

Notes to editors  Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.