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The fight for ratification of C190 must continue

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20 June, 2024June marks five years since the adoption of the International Labour Organization’s Convention (ILO C190) to end violence and harassment in the workplace. This landmark Convention presents a significant opportunity for unions to advance their fight against gender-based violence, and IndustriALL and its affiliates are campaigning vigorously for its ratification.

Upon the Convention’s adoption, IndustriALL recognized the urgent need to campaign for its ratification due to the pervasive violence and harassment in the world of work. ILO C190 is the first international standard aimed at eradicating these issues, asserting everyone’s right to a work environment free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH). The Convention also addresses existing gaps in national legislation.
Global unions launched a toolkit to support the implementation of the ILO C190. This “train the trainer” toolkit equips thousands of unions worldwide with essential tools to promote collective bargaining as a key strategy to eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work. 

In complement of this joint toolkit, IndustriALL developed a ready to use training module that the organization used to train about 300 trade union leaders, staff and officers in Asia, MENA, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa on how to prevent and address GBVH in the world of work and in their unions,  through the implementation of the ILO C190.
Part of IndustriALL’s ILO C190 campaign involves collaborating with companies to address gender-based violence and harassment. In 2022, IndustriALL worked with H&M Group and the Swedish union IF Metall to develop robust methods for preventing, detecting, and handling GBVH in the supply chain. Efforts included raising awareness and equipping workers and management with the necessary tools, creating a platform to address and resolve issues through joint training sessions with local H&M Group production offices and trade unions. This initiative impacts approximately 1.5 million garment workers across over 1,500 H&M Group supplier factories. Recently, stakeholders reinforced their commitment by sharing experiences from the pilot implementation of GBVH guidelines in six supplier factories in Türkiye. 
In November 2023, the IndustriALL executive committee endorsed a new policy on GBVH, misogyny, and sexism. This policy aims to foster a culture of dignity and respect within IndustriALL and its affiliates, emphasizing the eradication of GBVH, misogyny, and sexism. It includes educating members about these issues and aligning with the provisions of ILO C190. Clear procedures for addressing related complaints are also established, with leadership and staff set to receive training on policy implementation in the coming months.
IndustriALL affiliates have been diligently fighting for ILO C190 ratification over the past five years. 
In Nigeria, sustained campaigns and social dialogue involving trade unions, civil society organizations, and labour support groups led to ratification in 2022. Despite widespread underreporting due to stigma and weak law enforcement, unions continue C190 awareness campaigns, particularly in male-dominated workplaces, to eliminate practices that perpetuate GBVH.
In the Philippines, after four years of campaigning, the Senate ratified C190, making it the 37th country to do so. The campaign involved extensive lobbying, including writing letters and meeting with government officials. Educational materials and position papers on C190 were developed, and the campaign was highlighted during significant labour events.
Argentina also achieved ratification through union efforts. Deputy Vanesa Siley, a spokesperson for the General Confederation of Labour (CGT’s) federal group of women trade unionists, highlighted the significant role of the inter-union network, comprising over 100 unions, in advocating for workplace violence elimination.
After being trained on C190 by IndustriALL, Indonesian women committee developed a zero tolerance policy. Indonesian unions held social dialogue meetings with employers, leading more than 80 companies to sign this zero-tolerance. These policies, covering all workers, include forming teams to handle complaints, ensuring victims’ rights to lodge complaints, and providing safety, privacy, and psychological support.
As a result of all these effrots unions have incorporated ILO C190 principles into bargaining agreements. For example, the Indonesian ministery of women empowerment and child protection inaugurated a safe house at PT Evoluzione Tyre (Pirelli group) in West Java in March 2024. The company and the IndustriALL-affiliated Chemical, Energy, and Mines Workers Union (CEMWU) signed a zero-tolerance policy on violence and harassment in 2021, a significant step towards C190 implementation despite its non-ratification. 

“Since its adoption, 44 countries have ratified C190, demonstrating a growing global commitment to eliminating violence and harassment in the workplace. Our affiliates have done really good work in obtaining ratification. They have also taken actions to implement the ILO C190 in their workplaces, even without the ratification of the ILO instrument. The campaigns must continue to ensure safe and respectful work environments worldwide,”

says Armelle Seby IndustriALL gender director.

Header photo: ILO, © Crozet / Pouteau