Labour unionists have asked government to ratify the new international labour standard on violence and sexual harassment at workplaces in the country as a measure to eliminate the vice.
In June this year, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) at its 108th session adopted the Convention on the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work.
Under their umbrella body, the National Organisation of Trade Unions (Notu), the labour rights workers describe violence and sexual harassment at workplaces as a ‘silent killer’ of people’s productive capacities thereby affecting the employers.
Annet Birungi, the Notu secretary for women committee, says despite the paramount role played, women across the country face violence while a number of them are sexually harassed while at work which affects their productivity at work.
“Women are the majority among those facing violence and harassment at work and as workers’ union, we are out to ask employers, including government, to develop policies to eliminate the vice in their respective areas because we have found out that many cases go unreported due to fear among victims to lose their jobs while others have no alternative sources of income,” Birungi says.
She was speaking on Monday at a press conference organised to announce the maiden women workers dinner. The dinner is today at Hotel Africana, 4pm. Birungi says arrangements have been finalised to launch a campaign to eliminate gender-based violence and harassment against women at workplaces. The campaign starts today.
She adds that the dinner will attract hundreds of women from government, civil society, trade unions, faith-based institutions and the corporate on the theme ‘ending violence against women at workplace through women empowerment’, will be presided over by Minister of Gender, labour and Social Development Janat Mukwaya.
“The launch is going to focus on finding strategies for ending violence against women at the work place. We have identified panelists from the ministry of gender, MPs, senior trade unionists and women from civil society to give us views on how to end this vice,” says Birungi, adding that part of the campaign would involve establishing a desk and toll-free telephone line through which cases can be reported.
Notu chairman general Usher Wilson Owere says the campaign is a ground-breaking move in the workplaces where women are more vulnerable to violence than their male counterparts.
“We want to see more women in leadership but this can only be realised in an environment where they are respected and promoted in terms of responsibilities. This campaign is about making women more relevant and promoting an all-inclusive agenda in workplaces,” he adds.
He asked employers to develop policies that are women friendly, a move he says would improve productivity in their respective entities.
Owere says violence and sexual harassment in the world of work is a threat to dignity, security, health and well-being of everyone.
The 108th ILO convention
The 108th session of the International Labour Conference held in Geneva adopted the Convention on the Elimination of violence and Harassment in the world of work, which is the first normative standard aimed at preventing and responding to violence and harassment.
The Convention takes an inclusive approach by extending protection to all workers irrespective of their contractual status, including workers who are exercising the authority of an employer, as well as job seekers, trainees, interns and apprentices, volunteers among others.
According to ILO, more than 35 percent of women globally of15 years and above have experienced sexual or physical violence at home and in the workplace.