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Unions urge governments to support ILO convention on violence at work

27 Feb 2015
ITF affiliates globally are urging their governments and employers’ organisations to push for an ILO convention to stop gender-based violence at work, as part of their preparations to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March.

They are supporting the ITUC’s campaign to persuade the ILO governing body at its next meeting, from 12-27 March, to agree an international labour standard on violence against women and men at work. The previous governing body session, in November 2014, postponed the decision, so unions want to make sure that this vitally important proposal is high on the agenda this time.

Gender-based violence at work is a human rights violation that can include sexual violence and physical, verbal and psychological abuse and intimidation. Currently, most countries focus mainly on the criminalisation of offenders, which requires a higher burden of proof than sexual harassment and leaves the issue of workplace relations untouched.

ITF women transport workers’ co-ordinator Alison McGarry said: “This international standard would make a huge difference and I urge all our affiliates to pile on the pressure to help win it. So please lobby your governments and employers. 

“Between 40 and 50 percent of women experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work. The convention would reduce these risks and increase women’s economic independence and productivity at work. It would also help to improve health and safety at work, improve industrial relations and create a workplace culture where gender-based violence is not tolerated.” 

In the United States, the ITF-affiliated Teamsters have joined with several groups to send a letter to business community representatives to the ILO, urging them to support the convention.

ITF affiliates are planning a series of events for International Women’s Day, including showing solidarity with trade union leader Jimena López, who was sacked from her job as a LAN Ecuador cabin crew member in October 2014.

Go to 8march2015.org to find all the information and materials you need to make an impact this International Women¹s Day. Make sure you spread the word via your own networks and channels, and tell the ITF about your events.

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