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ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment - an issue of Decent Work?


In an op-ed the Council of Nordic Trade Unions and the leaders of the Baltic Trade Union Confederations urge the eight Nordic and Baltic countries to quickly ratify the latest ILO-convention, often called the Metoo-convention.

Every year on 7 October we celebrate the World Day of Decent Work. This year we also celebrate the creation of a new ILO Convention, one that has been long due.

After many years of struggle by the global unions, the ILO in June adopted a convention and a recommendation against violence and harassment in working life.

We now have international instruments that recognise the right of everyone to work free from violence and harassment! Moreover, violations against the Convention can constitute a human rights violation or abuse.

The definition of violence and harassment is broad and emphasises gender-based violence and harassment. Sexual harassment and bullying are included, among other things. It can be actions "face to face" or through digital media. The impact of domestic violence on the world of work is also included.

These instruments are valid in the world of work regardless of the business sector, in both the private and public sectors and in the formal and informal economy.

Workers and other people are covered, irrespective of the kind of employment contract or relationship, including people in training, platform workers in the gig economy and job applicants. The Convention also takes into account the involvement of third parties (e.g. clients, customers and patients), both in their capacity as perpetrators and victims.

These instruments are strong and practical and provide a clear framework for action and a sturdy way of responsibly dealing with violence and harassment. The instruments call for workplace risk assessments, training, attitude changes and awareness-raising measures. Obviously, these measures are best planned in cooperation between the employer and the trade union at the workplace level.

The Convention is a great historical achievement. The instruments are important but also require hard work to implement, even in the Nordic countries. It is about time to start planning together with national trade unions for ratification!

The Convention enters into force 12 months after two member states have ratified it. We sincerely hope that the Baltic and Nordic governments will be among the first to ratify!

Sonja Ýr Þorbergsdóttir, President, Council of Nordic Trade Unions (NFS) and the Federation of State and Municipal Employees (BSRB), Iceland

Magnus Gissler, General Secretary, Council of Nordic Trade Unions

Peep Peterson, President, The Estonian Trade Union Confederation (EAKL), Estonia

Irena Liepina, Vice President, Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia (LBAS)

Inga Ruginienė, President, Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (LPSK)

Kristina Krupavičienė, President, Lithuanian Trade Union Solidarumas

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