A&B becomes first country in Caribbean to ratify convention on harassment at work

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The convention encompasses physical, psychological, sexual, and economic harm (Photo courtesy the Safegard Group)
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Labour Minister Steadroy Benjamin has pledged the government’s commitment to addressing violence and harassment in the workplace.

Benjamin said in a press statement that government is poised to legislate against such, and that a national policy will be drafted with help from the Gender Affairs Department.

He was speaking as Antigua and Barbuda became the first nation in the Caribbean – and just the fourth in the Americas – to ratify the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) convention against workplace violence and harassment.

The ministry said all other ratifications in the wider region are in South America.

Just 15 of the ILO’s total 187 member states have ratified the convention to date.

“The ratification of this important convention signals the government’s commitment to guaranteeing workplaces free of all forms of violence and harassment, including bullying,” a statement from the Ministry of Legal Affairs said.

“The mental and physical wellbeing of the workforce is of utmost importance to this government and all workplaces are expected to adhere closely” to the convention’s tenets, it added.

The convention covers both private and public sector spaces. It applies to workers irrespective of their contract status, and establishes the right of every worker to freedom from violence and harassment in the workplace, recognising it as a human rights violation.

It encompasses physical, psychological, sexual, and economic harm, along with gender-based violence and harassment.

Trade unions across the country have long called for greater focus to be placed on the issue.

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