NUJ Equality Council calls on governments to ratify convention on violence and harassment at work

  • 02 Jul 2021

On June 25 the International Labour Organization Convention 190 on violence and harassment in the world of work came into force.

ILO Convention No. 190 is the first international treaty to recognise the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment. 

The Media Lawyers’ Association and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport commissioned guidance, produced by Doughty Street Chambers, on the legal powers available for journalists to respond to online abuse. A survey of Media Lawyers’ Association members conducted for the report, focused on UK journalists and media outlets and found 92 per cent said abuse of journalists had increased. 

The ILO convention guarantees protection not just from colleagues but third parties people have contact with through work. However, the recommendation is not a binding international rule. The UK, Irish governments and EU government must ratify it and apply it in law.

The NUJ and International Federation of Journalists joined global unions in launching a toolkit to support the Convention 190 (C190) and its Recommendation 206 (R206). The manual provides critical tools for the fight to eradicate violence and harassment in the world of work.

This week the new Equality Council met and agreed to send a message of solidarity to the Generation Equality Forum, convened by UN Women in Paris today, and to add the union’s voice to those calling for governments to adopt the convention.


Natasha Hirst , Equality Council chair, said:

“More than half of members surveyed last year reported they had experienced online abuse, while nearly a quarter had been physically assaulted or attacked. A 2019 TUC survey on sexual harassment of LGBT+ workers found a majority had been subject to some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. Recent work with women photographers in the NUJ demonstrated that many had experienced sexual harassment.

“Now a YouGov survey has found half of women reported suffered unwanted sexual behaviour in the workplace. This is clearly unacceptable. Ratification of Convention 190 is a key step in putting in place legal protection for people who experience violence and abuse at work. That is why we are calling for the UK, Irish and other EU governments to take this action if they are serious about tackling this serious problem.

“Unions have a big role to play in putting in place workplace policies to protect their members from violence and abuse – the Equality Council commends the IFJ and global unions for their toolkit to help raise awareness of the convention and to encourage unions to integrate Convention 190 into the union bargaining agenda.”

Harassment in the world of work: a training toolkit on the ILO Violence and Harassment Convention (No. 190)

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