ILC 2019 conference starts – 5 explanatory questions and answers

date: 10/06/2019

On 10 June, the 108th International Labour Conference will commence in Geneva. There, a historic vote will take place on the first ever international standard on violence and harassment in the world of work. What does  this mean for the work of FWF?

1. What is the ILC?

ILC stands for International Labour Conference. This is where the member states of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) meet. Over 5000 delegates from 187 countries will descend on Geneva, Switzerland from 10-21 June. Here, conventions are adopted, resolutions are passed and social and labour questions of importance to the entire world are discussed freely.

2. Why is there so much  fuss about the new labour Convention?

At the end of the conference, the member states will vote on the first ever international standard on violence and harassment in the world of work, so this Convention is pretty unique and historic.

3. Why do we need this Convention?

Gender-based violence remains one of the most tolerated violations of workers’ human rights. According to statistics, 35% of women—818 million women globally—over the age of 15 have experienced sexual or physical violence at home, in their communities or in the workplace. Yet there is currently no international law that sets a minimum standard to eradicate violence and harassment in the world of work. 

4. How does the vote relate to the work of FWF?

Violence and harassment against women and men is especially prevalent in the garment industry, which employs a high number of women, often in lower-paid, lower-power positions. In research conducted by FWF among garment workers, the most frequent type of harassment mentioned was non-verbal, such as staring, whistling and winking. Around one in ten of all interviewed women stated that they had received sexually explicit remarks, had been physical assaulted (touching or groping breasts or other body parts) or had been stalked.

5. How can this Convention help garment workers?

If a Convention is passed, all ILO member states must submit the Convention to their national authority for consideration of ratification. States who ratify the Convention will need to ensure that their national legislation is in conformity with the Convention’s minimum standards. This means that national lobbying and advocacy activities will need to go well beyond the ILC 2019 to see the successful implementation of this standard in the workplace.

FWF will -together with its partners – continue to work on preventing and ending violence and harassment in garment factories. Last week, FWF together with trade unions FNV and CNV Internationaal presented their joint manifesto to members of the Dutch parliament, encouraging the Dutch ILO delegation to strongly support the new ILO Convention to end violence and harassment in the world of work. Read more about FWF activities on this portal.

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