Supporting the independent education community

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women


International Labour Organisation Convention 190 Violence and Harassment

For the first time, violence and harassment in the world of work are covered in new international labour standards adopted by the International Labour Organisation. This is a key milestone for labour rights and women’s rights.


In June 2019, a ground-breaking Convention 190 and Recommendation 260 to eliminate violence and harassment at work was successfully negotiated and adopted overwhelmingly at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva.   This two-year negotiation included ACTU and other world trade unions, ILO member governments and employer organisations.

The historic Convention 190 and Recommendation 260 establishes for the first time, an international standard to prevent and eliminate violence and harassment at work and places obligations on governments to develop national laws prohibiting workplace violence and on employers to take proactive steps to prevent violence and harassment.

The Australian Government voted in favour of the Convention 190 and the associated Recommendation 260 to eliminate violence and harassment at work.

Advocate for Ratification

Now it is time to advocate for the ratification of Convention 190 and Recommendation206 as these cannot be implemented until world governments seek to ratify it.

From 25 November 2019 – 10 December 2019, 

IEU members can

#orangeourworld       #RatifyILO190

By wearing orange and participating in the global campaign ‘Orange the World in 16 Days’ IEU members can join in the global collective call to ratify ILO Convention190. 

This global action will bring about public awareness of the new ILO instruments and a greater demand for their ratification and implementation.

Once ratified by national governments, Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 can be implemented by governments, unions and employers.

Four Key Questions about ILO Convention 190 and Recommendation 206

1          What is the significance of the Violence and Harassment Convention, ILO Convention 190 and Recommendation 206?

The right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment has never before been clearly articulated in an international treaty.   The Convention also recognises that such violence and harassment can constitute a human rights violation or abuse.

The Convention is strong and practical. Together, ILO Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 provide a clear framework for action and an opportunity to shape a future of work based on dignity and respect, free from violence and harassment.

The process behind these instruments began in 2015, and with the recent global outcry against violence and harassment, their adoption could not be more timely or relevant.

2          What kind of acts come under the definition of “violence and harassment”?

Violence and harassment are defined as “a range of unacceptable behaviours and practices” that “aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm”. This potentially covers physical abuse, verbal abuse, bullying and mobbing, sexual harassment, threats and stalking, among other things.

The Convention also takes account of the fact that nowadays work does not always take place at a physical workplace; so, for example, it covers work-related communications, including those enabled by ICT.

3          Who will be protected under the Convention?

The Convention’s focus on inclusivity is very important.   It means that everyone who works is protected, irrespective of contractual status, including interns, volunteers, job applicants, and persons exercising the authority of an employer.

It applies to the public and private sectors, the formal and informal economy, and urban and rural areas.

Some groups, and workers in certain sectors, occupations and work arrangements are acknowledged to be especially vulnerable to violence and harassment; for example, in health, transport, education and domestic work, or working at night or in isolated areas. The sectors specific to each country will be identified through tripartite consultation.

Gender-based violence and harassment is specifically highlighted, and the approach also takes into account third parties (e.g. clients, customers, service providers and patients) because they can be victims as well as perpetrators.

Importantly, the impact of domestic violence on the world of work is also included.

This is a significant step in bringing domestic violence out of the shadows and changing attitudes. The Recommendation 206 also sets out practical measures, including leave for victims, flexible work arrangements, and awareness-raising.

4          When does it come into force?

As with most ILO Conventions, Convention 190 will enter into force 12 months after two world governments (ILO member states) have ratified it. 

This is why we must join with the global community and #orangeourworld and #ratifyILO190

Time for Action.  Orange the World in 16 Days.

Our work is not complete!

IEU members can join with the ACTU and call upon on the Morrison Government to:

  • Ratify and fully implement the Convention 190 and Recommendation 206.
  • Implement stronger powers for the Fair Work Commission, as well as work health and safety regulators and human rights commissions to proactively address violence, inequality and discrimination at work.  And
  • Establish a gender equality panel in the FWC that would have the power to hear and determine sexual harassment and sex discrimination claims

By wearing an item of orange clothing (the colour chosen by the UN to represent the day) and sharing a photo and messages with UN Women social media and with their IEU Branch, IEU members can join the global campaign to eliminate gender violence.   In addition, donations can be made to support women and girls across the world to live free from violence via the UN Women website