By Orville Williams
The impact of Covid-19 and the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Convention 190 on workplace harassment were some of the matters discussed during a conference for women and domestic workers yesterday.
The one-day meeting – dubbed the IUF Caribbean Regional Women and Domestic Workers Conference – formed part of the wider International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) Caribbean Regional Conference, which is taking place in Antigua with the support of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union (ABWU) and the Antigua Trades & Labour Union (AT&LU).
Ahead of that 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 topic of particular focus, considering its far-reaching impact.
“I think, for me, it’s really important that we hear [about] the impact of Covid-19, and we strategise around that. For me, Covid-19 meant that also – as the global trade union movement – we refocused on a really important subject, occupational health and safety.
“I think Covid-19 really made us look again at what we needed to do in the workplace to ensure that the workers we represent are protected, not just from Covid-19, but from the many injuries [and] illnesses that we know can affect women workers and all workers around the globe,” Longley said.
In addition, the IUF General Secretary noted that the women leaders would discuss and make recommendations on ILO Convention 190 – the international treaty that “recognises 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 militancy from the unions tasked with protecting workers.
“The IUF, with our sister unions [and] our affiliates around the world, worked extremely hard to achieve this convention and, in 2019, Convention No. 190 and Recommendation No. 206 were again adopted at an international labour conference.
“But, as with many things [including] the agreements we make with companies [and] the promises from governments, unless we as trade unions actually force governments [and] pressure employers to make those pieces of paper effective in the workplace, then very little changes,” she maintained.
The IUF is a global trade union organisation with nearly 400 affiliate unions in more than 120 countries, and its sixth Caribbean Regional Conference will take place on Thursday and Friday, here in Antigua.