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Ending workplace violence, harassment

Experts for including supply chains, care workers in ILO Convention

FE Report | May 25, 2018 00:00:00

The new ILO Convention must define workers and workplaces comprehensively as well as include corporate supply chains and unpaid care workers in order to set international standards against harassment and violence, participants at a seminar said on Wednesday.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is going to place a standard-setting item on violence against men and women, they also said.

The 107th International Labour Conference (ILC), to be held from May 28 to June 08 in Geneva, is scheduled to discuss the proposed Convention, they added.

A delegation of Bangladesh will attend the ILC, they said, placing their recommendations to be placed there before adoption of the Convention.

They were speaking at a multi-stakeholder consultation on the ILO Convention on 'Ending Violence and Harassment in the World of Work'. Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) and Care Bangladesh organised the programme in the city.

BILS vice chairman Shirin Akhter chaired the event. Ministry of Labour and Employment additional secretary Khondaker Mostan Hossain, Care Bangladesh assistant country director Prabodh Devkota, and Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) additional research director Khondaker Golam Moazzem, among others, spoke on the occasion.

"Workers groups, who are currently poorly-protected against violence and harassment, including unpaid care workers, domestic and sex workers, and those in the informal sectors and politics should be included within the Convention," said Care Bangladesh director - women and girls empowerment Humaira Aziz.

The importance of global value chains and their impact on the conditions faced by the workers, not only in formal situations but also throughout the value chain, must be addressed in the instruments, she said while presenting her keynote paper.

Citing examples of garment sector, she said complexity in the supply chain adds to the risk of poor conditions for the workers, also including violence and harassment.

Humaira Aziz called on ILO to have the ILO Convention recognise the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and preferably build on their respect and remedy requirements of businesses with obligations to pay particular attention to the risks of violence and harassment at work.

She also urged ILO to publish its risk analyses and mitigation plans, and to provide specialised remedies, which recognise the particularly sensitive nature of the impact of violence and harassment at work.

Responsibility for violence and harassment in the workplace should not be extend to supply chains only, but should also be extended to distribution and retail channels, where a brand or manufacturer plays a major role in the value chain, she added.

Her other recommendations included ensuring dispute resolution mechanisms, so that each member state ensures that all workers have easy access to safe, fair and effective mechanisms as well as women's participation in the ILO process and beyond.

There is no internationally-agreed definition of "violence and harassment in the world of work", said the participants.

Several ILO instruments refer to violence and/or harassment, but none of these instruments addresses violence and harassment as their primary aim.

None of these defines what is meant by violence and harassment or indicate the steps that the governments, employers and workers' organisations should take to prevent, address and redress violence and harassment in the world of work, they added.

They also recommended creating awareness, punishment, persuasion and protective measures in this regard.

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