Covid impact and workplace harassment discussed at Women and Domestic Workers conference

Sue Longley, IUF general secretary, says unions must press governments and employers to sign up to treaties and agreements reached so real change can be seen in the workplace

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By Orville Williams

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The impact of Covid-19 and the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 190 on workplace harassment were some of the issues discussed at a conference for women and domestic workers yesterday.

The day-long meeting – dubbed the IUF Caribbean Women’s and Domestic Workers Regional Conference – was part of the Caribbean Regional Conference of the International Union of Food, Agriculture, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Industries (IUF), which is taking place in Antigua with the support of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union (ABWU) and the Union of Trades and Labor of Antigua (AT&LU).

Ahead of the meeting, which focused on the affairs of women and domestic workers in the workplace, IUF General Secretary Sue Longley revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic would be a matter of particular attention, account given its considerable impact.

“I think for me it’s really important that we hear [about] the impact of Covid-19, and we’re building a strategy around that. For me, Covid-19 also meant – as a global trade union movement – that we refocused on a really important topic, occupational health and safety.

“I think Covid-19 has really made us review what we need to do in the workplace to make sure the workers we represent are protected, not just from Covid-19, but from the many injuries [and] diseases that we know can affect working women and all working people around the world,” Longley said.

In addition, the IUF general secretary noted that the leaders will discuss and make recommendations on ILO Convention 190 – the international treaty which “recognizes the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment. , including gender-based violence and harassment”. ”.

These issues, she insisted, will only be adequately addressed with a sense of activism on the part of the unions charged with protecting workers.

“The IUF, with our sister unions [and] our affiliates around the world have worked hard to achieve this convention and in 2019 Convention No. 190 and Recommendation No. 206 were again adopted at an International Labor Conference.

But, like many things [including] the agreements we enter into with companies [and] promises from governments, unless we as unions actually force governments [and] putting pressure on employers to make these documents effective in the workplace, and then very little change,” she argued.

The IUF is a global trade union organization with almost 400 affiliated unions in more than 120 countries, and its sixth Caribbean Regional Conference will take place on Thursday and Friday here in Antigua.

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