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Saturday, April 13, 2024

ILO’s drive to curb workplace harassment & violence

ILO recently launched the world's first international treaty on workplace violence and harassment. With this campaign, ILO aims to make sure that employees are given a safe place to work in.

It is very important to provide a conducive environment to the employees by the employer at their workplaces, however in Pakistan, labor laws are not being enforced and workers are facing health, safety, economic, and sanitation issues at workplaces.

In Pakistan, no safety measures are taken at the workplace like the availability of safe drinking water, water tanks, fire extinguisher, and other safety measures are also not followed by the employer at the workplace.

Read more: On Labor Day, Pakistan needs to rethink its labor laws

However, it is the first time in the history of the world that the International Labour Organization (ILO) has launched its first international treaty to address the issues of employees at the workplace from the 25th of June 2021. Furthermore, International Labour Organization is to launch a global campaign to promote the ratification of the Violence and Harassment Convention.

ILO’s campaign against workplace harassment

The first international treaty on violence and harassment in the world of work came into force on June 25th, 2021 – two years after it was adopted by the ILO’s International Labour Conference (ILC). To date, six countries have ratified the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190)  – Argentina, Ecuador, Fiji, Namibia, Somalia, and Uruguay. Ratifying countries are legally bound by the provisions of the Convention a year after ratification.

Together with Recommendation No. 206, Convention No. 190 recognizes the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment and provides a common framework for action.

It provides the first international definition of violence and harassment in the world of work, including gender-based violence and harassment. Violence and harassment at work take a range of forms and lead to physical, psychological, sexual, and economic harm.

Read more: Workplace harassments in Pakistan: initiatives taken by State and the way forward

Since the adoption of the Convention, the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the issue, with many forms of work-related violence and harassment being reported across countries since the outbreak began, particularly against women and vulnerable groups.

To mark its entering into force, the ILO has launched a global campaign to promote its ratification and implementation. The campaign aims to explain in simple terms what the Convention is, the issues it covers, and how it seeks to address violence and harassment in the world of work.

“A better future of work is free of violence and harassment,” said Guy Ryder, the ILO Director-General in his message to launch the global campaign.


“Convention 190 calls on all ILO Member States to eradicate violence and harassment in all its forms from the world of work. I urge countries to ratify the Convention and help build, together with employers and workers and their organizations, a dignified, safe, and healthy working life for all.”

Read more: Politics of Harassment: Is ‘feminism’ used as a political instrument?

Pakistan’s dire reality: Need for urgent measures

According to a report by the World Food Programme, an average Pakistani household spends 50% of monthly income on food items, so it becomes difficult to survive within 20 thousand in a month. There is a dire need to address the labor class’s low income on a war footing pattern.

Moreover, child labor in Pakistan is increasing day by day and as per a survey by the World Food Programme, 7 million Pakistanis up to the age of primary level are out of school.

Therefore, it is important that the new Treaty of ILO should be implemented in full spirit and in an enabling environment should be provided to the labor at their workplaces. A new green job should also be created to build a green consumer market according to ILO guidelines.

Read more: Child labor in Pakistan

The Action Week began on 21st June with a virtual high-level dialogue. The speakers included the ILO Director-General, Ministers of Labor from Argentina and Madagascar, and representatives of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the European Commission, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

Following Action Week, the ILO launched a guide aimed at helping constituents and other stakeholders to promote and implement the Convention and Recommendation. The guide covers core principles and measures that countries can take to prevent, address and eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work, including examples of national laws, regulations, and policies.

As per ILO, safety conditions at the workplace in Pakistan are in not good condition, and eradicating violence and harassment at the workplace in line with convention 190 is an important task for Pakistan.

Read more: How Pakistan’s human rights campaign is flawed beyond deceit

Pakistan must ratify ILO Treaty to provide better work conditions to the employees for better results. Furthermore, there is an acute shortage of labor inspectors in Pakistan who can carry out daily inspections of factories and other workplaces to adopt the new ILO Treaty on Harassment and violence at workplaces.

The writer holds an MPP from KDI School of Public Policy and Management Seoul, South Korea, an MA in International relations, and an LLB from Shah Abdul Latif University KhairPur. Currently, he is working as an Assistant Director in the Board of Investment Pakistan. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.