During the 108th (Centenary) Session of the International Labour Conference, held in Geneva, Switzerland from 10th to 21st June, 2019, two instruments and one resolution concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work were finalised by the relevant technical committee and subsequently adopted by the Conference. Barbados, through the active participation of the Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, played a significant role in that committee and made a strong contribution to the processes that led up to the final text of the instruments. The Minister was selected by the committee, to serve as rapporteur and therefore presented the final report on the work of the committee, in plenary. On adoption, the C190 – Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 became immediately open for ratification by Member states.
The Convention states that the term ““violence and harassment” in the world of work refers to a range of unacceptable behaviours and practices, or threats thereof, whether a single occurrence or repeated, that aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm, and includes gender-based violence and harassment;”. The provisions of the Convention apply equally to workers and employees as defined by national law and practice. The provisions are extended to include: interns and apprentices; workers who may have been terminated; volunteers; job seekers and applicants; and individuals who exercise the authority or duties of an employer. The instrument also underscores the need for inclusivity in addressing the subject matter.
Notably, Article 9 (b) of the Convention requires that Members take into account, violence and harassment and associated risks, in the management of occupational safety and health. This ideal is re-emphasised at item 6 of the Recommendation where, in relation to prevention and protection, violence and harassment is regarded as a matter with strong occupational safety and health dimensions.
The Recommendation, in addition to outlining the core principles that should be addressed in the national approach to the prevention and elimination of workplace violence and harassment, gives detailed guidance on the typical elements that must be addressed. The Recommendation requires that policies are devised in relation to:
- protection and prevention
- enforcement, remedies and assistance; and
- guidance, training and the development of awareness