Canada’s unions play key role in ILO negotiations on addressing violence at work

June 11, 2019

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Representatives from labour, governments, and employers are meeting this month as part of the 108th International Labour Conference in Geneva.

Marie Clarke Walker, Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), serves as the Worker Spokesperson and will continue as a key leader in the effort to strengthen obligations to end violence and harassment at work.

Representatives of the ILO’s 188 member states will be meeting from June 10 to 22, 2019 to negotiate the ILO’s Centennial Declaration. The ILO Centenary provides an important moment to look back and celebrate the ILO’s history and achievements, but also to reaffirm its social justice mandate. Workers are calling for a new Social Contract that guarantees a fair deal for all working people to change the current model of globalisation that puts profit ahead of working people. The thematic focus for the event is the “Future of Work,” aiming to respond to the global drivers of change, including global economic policy, climate change and technology.

This year, discussions will lead to the development of a specific Convention and a Recommendation aiming to end violence and harassment in the world of work. This Convention would be a legally binding international treaty, which, when ratified by ILO member states, would commit them to apply the Convention in national law and practice, while a Recommendation is a guideline providing more details on its application. Worker representatives are advocating for language to enshrine the right for all people to a work environment free from violence and harassment. A priority focus will be on gender-based violence, reflecting the prevailing gender inequalities in the world of work and that victims of violence and harassment are overwhelmingly women.

The CLC’s Marie Clarke Walker was appointed last year to serve the two-year term as the Worker Spokesperson on the ILO Standard Setting Committee. Her role in the Committee is that of chief negotiator representing workers. Two weeks of intense discussions aim to lead towards a consensus with concerned parties on the language for new instruments on ending violence and harassment in the world of work.

“There can be no decent work with violence at work,” said Clarke Walker. “Few countries provide protection against violence in the workplace, especially gender-based violence. A strong ILO Convention and Recommendation are important instruments to recognize and close this gap.”

Related Articles

Canada’s unions stand with India’s farmers and farm workers

Canada’s unions stand in solidarity with farmers and agricultural workers in India as they continue to protest recent reforms to agricultural laws that deregulate the industry and leave farmers and farm workers vulnerable to exploitation by international corporations. “Deregulating local produce markets will have a devastating impact on farmers, farm workers and food security in India,” said Canadian Labour Congress…
Read More

Canada’s unions call for pathway to permanent residency for all migrant workers

Canada’s unions are marking International Migrants Day by calling on the federal government to offer a pathway to permanent residency to all migrant workers who wish to apply. The federal government recently announced that it will be accepting applications for permanent residence from refugee claimants working in the healthcare sector. This important announcement recognizes the crucial contributions refugee workers have…
Read More

Canada’s unions welcome new bill to adopt Indigenous rights framework

Canada’s unions welcome the federal government’s recent announcement and subsequent tabling of a bill to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), a commitment which was to be fulfilled before the end of the year. The new bill, Bill C-15, comes four years after former NDP MP Romeo Saganash introduced Bill C-262, a similar private…
Read More