26 June, 2020African governments and unions played a leading role in the negotiations at the ILO leading up to the adoption of Convention 190 on violence and harassment in the world of work. Now, unions are campaigning for the convention to come into force and several governments are advancing the ratification process.
“Workers must be part of creating a solution to end gender-based violence in the world of work by creating a space to end unacceptable behaviours and a culture of silence to create change in the workplace. We need to create a workplace that is free of violence and harassment,”
says Rose Omamo, general secretary of Amalgamated Union of Kenyan Metal Workers and IndustriALL Global Union Executive Committee member.
The Namibian cabinet has approved the proposal for ratification for ILO convention 190 and 189, which will soon be submitted to parliament for ratification.
In Zimbabwe, the unions are meeting with the ministries of labour and social welfare and the women affairs before the ratification is brought to parliament.
The Mineworkers Union of Zambia celebrated International Women's Day on 8 March with a call for solidarity to the Zambian Congress of trade unions to push the government on the ratification of the ILO C190.
Trade unions in Africa are encouraged to lobby their governments to ratify C190. The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) has a daily social media campaign.
Andre Kriel, SACTWU general secretary says:
“Our main intention is to keep this matter in the public eye, until the ratification. We have consistently raised the matter at the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Central Executive Committee (CEC), and COSATU has now taken up the campaign and raised ratification directly with the Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi. In addition, a call was raised directly with South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa when he addressed the February 2020 CEC.”
COSATU has also raised the issue with the employment and labour portfolio committee in parliament.
21 June was the first anniversary of the adoption of ILO Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 on Violence and harassment in the world of work. Uruguay is the first country to have ratified C190, with reports that Fiji will soon follow. 12 months after Fiji does so, C190 will enter into force.
Armelle Seby, IndustriALL gender coordinator says:
“The adoption of C190 is important in ending gender-based violence and sexual harassment at the workplace. In South Africa, several women have been killed at work; in the mines, at power sub-stations and other workplaces, and working women are raped in the communities where they live and killed in their homes.”