Hayward: 107th International Labour Conference

July 3, 2018 | 5 Comments

[Written by BPSU President Jason Hayward]

The International Labour Organization [ILO] is a tripartite U.N. agency that brings together governments, employers and workers of its 187 member States to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men. The ILO was founded in 1919, in the wake of a destructive war, to pursue a vision based on the premise that universal, lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice. The ILO became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946.

The main aims of the ILO are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues. The unique tripartite structure of the ILO gives an equal voice to workers, employers and governments to ensure that the views of the social partners are closely reflected in labour standards and in shaping policies and programmes.

The International Labour Conference [ILC] is the ILO’s highest decision-making body. It meets annually, bring together the tripartite delegations from the Organization’s 187-member States and a number of observers from other international actors to consider a series of topics related to the world of work, placed on its agenda by the Governing Body of the ILO. The Conference is composed of plenary and technical committees.

From May 28 to June 8, 2018, I had the pleasure to be part of a local tripartite delegation in my capacity as President of the Bermuda Trade Union Congress that attended the 107th Session of the ILC. Other members of the delegation included the Minister of Home Affairs Hon. Walter Brown, JP, Gabrielle Cann, Manager of Labour Relations Section and Keith Jensen, President of the Bermuda Employers Council. As a result of Bermuda not being a member state, the Bermuda delegation attended as advisors of the Royaume-Uni Delegation, which is French for United Kingdom.

The 107th Session of the ILC was held in two locations: the Palais des Nations and the ILO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The agenda of the Conference consisted of three [3] standing items and five [5] technical items. The five technical items placed on the agenda of the Governing body were:

  • 1. Effective ILO development cooperation in support of the Sustainable Development Goals [general discussion]
  • 2. Violence and harassment against women and men in the world of work [standard setting, double discussion]
  • 3. A recurrent discussion on the strategic objective of social dialogue and tripartism, under the follow-up to ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization, 2008.
  • 4. Abrogation of Conventions Nos 21, 50, 64, 65, 86, and 104 and withdrawal of Recommendations Nos 7, 61, and 62.
  • 5. Proposed amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006.

All members of the Bermuda delegation took part in the Standard-Setting Committee: Violence and Harassment in the World of Work [first discussion].

At its 325th Session [October–November 2015], the Governing Body of the International Labour Office decided to place a standard-setting item: “Violence against women and men in the world of work” on the agenda of the 107th Session [June 2018] of the ILC for standard setting under the double discussion procedure. At its 328th Session, the Governing Body decided to expand the reference to “violence” in the title of the item to “violence and harassment”.

In accordance with Article 39[1] of the Standing Orders of the Conference, the Office prepared two reports for this first discussion:

  • The law and practice report, Ending violence and harassment in the world of work [ILO.107/V/1], and,
  • Ending violence and harassment in the world of work [ILO.107/V/2]. The information contained in the second report served as a basis for the first discussion by the 107th Session of the Conference.

The Standard-Setting Committee: Violence and Harassment in the World of Work was composed of 515 members [146 Government members, 185 Employer members and 184 Worker members]. The Committee met 17 times over the two-week period. There was a strong desire from governments’, employers and workers to produce an instrument that will assist in ending violence and harassment in the world of work. In order to send the strongest possible message that international leadership is united on ending violence and harassment in the workplace, most members desire the creation of a convention supplemented by a recommendation,

Fulsome and robust discussion was had on definitions and scope. It was general accepted that for the purpose of the standard discussed:

a] the term “violence and harassment” in the world of work should be understood as 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;

b] gender-based violence and harassment should be understood as violence and harassment directed at persons because of their sex or gender, or affecting persons of a particular sex or gender disproportionately, and includes sexual harassment;

c] the term “worker” should cover persons in all sectors, both in the formal and informal economy, and whether in urban or rural areas, including employees as defined by national law and practice, as well as persons working irrespective of their contractual status, persons in training, including interns and apprentices, laid-off and suspended workers, volunteers, job seekers and job applicants.

d] violence and harassment in the world of work should cover situations occurring in the course of, linked with, or arising out of work:

  • in the workplace, including public and private spaces where they are a place of work;
  • in places where the worker is paid, takes a rest break or a meal, or uses sanitary and washing facilities;
  • when commuting to and from work;
  • during work-related trips or travel, training, events or social activities;
  • through work-related communications enabled by information and communication technologies; and
  • in employer-provided accommodation.

e] victims and perpetrators of violence and harassment in the world of work can be employers and workers, and their respective representatives, and third parties, including clients, customers, service providers, users, patients and the public.

Prevention measures agreed upon included:

a] Each Member should take appropriate measures to prevent violence and harassment in the world of work, including:

  • identifying, in consultation with the employers’ and workers’ organizations concerned and through other applicable means, sectors, occupations and work arrangements in which workers are more exposed to violence and harassment;
  • taking measures to effectively protect such workers; and
  • protecting the privacy and confidentiality of those individuals involved, to the extent possible and as appropriate.

b] Each member should adopt national laws and regulations requiring employers to take steps, as far as it is reasonably practicable, to prevent violence and harassment in the world of work, and in particular to:

  • take into account violence and harassment and associated psychosocial risks in the organisation of occupational safety and health;
  • adopt, in consultation with workers and their representatives, a policy on all forms of violence and harassment;
  • identify hazards and assess the risks of violence and harassment, with the participation of workers and their representatives, and take measures to prevent and control them; and
  • provide workers with information and training on the identified hazards and risks of violence and harassment and the associated prevention and protection measures.

It is generally accepted that a range of unacceptable behaviours and practices along the continuum of violence and harassment affects all occupations and sectors of economic activity around the world. These behaviours result in physical, psychological and sexual harm or suffering for millions of workers and employers every year, resulting, in extreme cases, murder and suicide. The importance of the discussion held this year and the discussion to be held next year at the ILO’s Centenary is the dire need to rid the world of work of the spectrum of reprehensible behavior as violence and harassment.

I have generally come to the conclusion that we can put measures and polices in place to mitigate the occurrence of violence and harassment in the world of work, however, people need to commit to being better human beings.

- Jason Hayward

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Comments (5)

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  1. Sorry Sir says:

    Yea, yea, yea. Nobody really cares.

    Just remember to put your travel expenses on the website.

    • We’ve came a mighty long way from working for free – to sub-standard wages and no benefits or representation against ruthless employers.
      If they had their way they would have us working for $10 an hour 7 days a week.
      Well some people allow it so I guess thats why they get away with it.

      • Double S says:

        You have never worked for free at anytime in your life. I doubt you even work now given the fact that all you do is post trashy nonsense on here all day.

        • I didnt, but my ancestors did for 300 years and I inherited their struggle just like de undeserved privileged inherited social and economic status.

  2. Beverley Connell says:

    I really don’t think that we needed to spend $7,000 dollars in travel expenses to come to the conclusion that people need to commit to being better human beings.

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