In addition to marking the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Centenary Anniversary, this year’s International Labor Conference (ILC) focused on the adoption of a new ILO Centenary Declaration and a new ILO Convention and Recommendation on Violence & Harassment in the World of Work. USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog was on the ground leading USCIB’s U.S. Employer delegation, which represented USCIB member companies for the entire duration of the two-week ILC, taking place June 10-21 in Geneva, Switzerland. Herzog was joined by more than 5,700 delegates at the ILC, who were representing members of the respective groups that comprise the tripartite structure of the ILO – workers, governments and business.
USCIB engaged actively in both the Centenary Declaration and Violence & Harassment discussions, and was particularly pleased to be part of the successful adoption of the new Convention on Violence and Harassment. “Both violence and harassment are unacceptable behaviors that have no place in our societies – and especially not in our workplaces,” said Herzog in her remarks at the concluding ceremony of the ILC. “The Convention document is aspirational in its vision, as it should be for such an important and universal concern. The Convention also clarifies that for public and private employers to effectively work to eradicate these negative practices, such efforts must be commensurate with their degree of control.”
Herzog also noted disappointment that ILC participants did not join the Employers group in sufficient numbers to ensure that LGBTI would be explicitly cited in the new ILO instruments for protection. “Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and protection from violence and harassment applies to all people, without exception,” stressed Herzog. “As we enter the second century of the ILO’s history, we call upon the Secretary-General Guterres of the United Nations and Director General Ryder of the ILO to be unwavering in their work to bring added and necessary clarity to international instruments to ensure that they are truly inclusive so that ALL PEOPLE may be protected from violence, harassment and discrimination EVERYWHERE,” Herzog contended.
According to Herzog, adoption of an ILO Convention by the ILC is a clearly a great accomplishment, especially on such an important topic as violence & harassment. Even more important, however, will be for governments to take the next step to actually ratify the convention because that would trigger a responsibility for governments to modify their domestic laws to give effect to the provisions within any new ILO convention. This will be a critical next step if we want to see the needed changes to eliminate violence and harassment in countries and workplaces around the world.
Still, the passage of the Convention and Recommendation, together with the Centenary Declaration, constitute important steps in tackling issues that have, are, and will affect governments, employers and workers. Looking to the ILO’s coming 100 years, Herzog stated at the ILC, “We must all continue to respect the value and context of social dialogue and other labor relations systems in helping to navigate change. As the ILO’s founders wisely understood 100 years ago, open and honest tripartite dialogue, based on trust and political will, can be an important tool for finding shared solutions and facilitating the implementation of reforms geared towards the future.”