UK government ratifies international treaty on prevention of violence and harassment

The UK’s ratification of the treaty follows years of campaigning from the trade union movement, including the CSP.

CSP's National Group of Regional Stewards campaign for the ratification of ILO Convention 190, February 2019
CSP stewards campaigning for ratification, February 2019

The International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s Convention was first adopted by other countries in 2019, in recognition of the urgent need to tackle gender-based harassment in the workplace.  

All nations that sign up to the convention are expected to take preventive measures to prohibit workplace violence and discrimination. In the UK this could include new legislation, information campaigns, or a requirement that all employers introduce relevant workplace policies.

The need for further preventative measures is particularly pressing in healthcare.  A recent survey of CSP members found that 11.5 per cent of members with one or more protected characteristic experienced harassment, victimisation or discrimination in the last 12 months while working, seeking work or studying.  Of those, 25 per cent found that these issues got worse over the course of the year.

Jill Taylor, chair of the CSP’s National Group of Regional Stewards, says:

The safety of all working people, from all walks of life, should be a given.  Sadly it is not. In the last few weeks I have seen first-hand a rise in staff being verbally abused by hospital visitors and patients, something no worker should be exposed too.

Yet the announcement that the UK government has ratified the Violence and Harassment Convention is an amazing win for the trade unions which have been fighting for this move.  It makes me proud to be a trade unionist.  Now work must continue to bring forward positive changes within the workplace

The CSP will now join others in the trade union movement to campaign for adequate preventative actions and enforcement from the government when implementing the Convention.

Reacting to the news, Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

"Unions, government and industry must now work together on the laws and workplace policies needed to prevent abuse and punish those responsible. This should include recognising that not every worker faces the same risks. Insecure workers, frontline staff, women, Black workers and those with other protected characteristics face greater risks that must be addressed.”

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