C190: Women standing up against harassment

E tū supporting the launch of the Safe World of Work campaign, calling on the Government to ratify ILO Convention 190

A woman worker is sexually harassed at work by a coworker and she lives in constant fear. She feels silenced and intimidated and doesn’t thrive at work or at home. If she raises a complaint, she will continue to feel the fear and stress of the harassment during a process that could be long and will almost certainly have her reliving the experience. Even the best outcome for her in these circumstances – the coworker is removed from the workplace – doesn’t change the culture or lessen the likelihood that others will experience harassment and violence, and it doesn’t make it less likely that she will experience it again. We don’t name her here because she could have any person’s name. You may know her, or you may be her.

This must stop.

E tū is a core part of the union-led Coalition for a Safe World of Work, which is campaigning for an end to violence and harassment in the world of work.

The International Labour Organisation Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (190) (C190) provides a framework for the legal, cultural, and industrial changes necessary to eliminate violence, in all its forms, from the world of work. The convention brings together different approaches: health and safety, human rights, gender power relations – spaces where many people in this country, both in the union movement and the NGO and community sector, have decades of experience.

It establishes the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment.

The convention is comprehensive – it defines violence and harassment as a range of unacceptable behaviours and practices that are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm. And it defines the ‘world of work’ as broader than just the physical workplace – it includes job seekers, people who have lost their jobs, travel to and from work, online communications and forums, and off site meetings and training events – anywhere that’s related to work. It recognises domestic violence as a workplace issue, too.

C190 is an international law that creates rights for workers. The recommendation that goes with it provides guidance about ensuring workers’ voices are heard and promoting collective bargaining, about education, and about responsive institutions that understand the power, rights, and health and safety issues behind violence and harassment.

For the convention to be binding in New Zealand, our Government must ratify it.

The Coalition for a Safe World of Work is harnessing the collective power and talents of our coalition, through stories, lobbying, campaigning, media, research, and policy pressure. The campaign aim is to have Aotearoa New Zealand ratify the convention. That will be a major cause for celebration and a true step to ending violence and harassment.

E tū is represented in this campaign by Rachel Mackintosh. If you are committed to the campaign aim and are interested in joining the coalition, contact E tū assistant national secretary Rachel Mackintosh: rachel.mackintosh@etu.nz