Violence in the world of work is a threat to the dignity, security, health and well-being of everyone. It has an impact not only on workers and employers, but also on their families, communities, economies and society as a whole. Indeed, violence in the world of work strikes at the heart of the efforts of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to promote the right of all human beings “to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity” (Declaration of Philadelphia), II(a), 1944). The issue has recently been brought into sharp focus at the global level, with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which calls for the achievement of full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, the reduction of inequalities and the elimination of “all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres” (Target 8.5, Goal 10 and Target 5.2).
The need for international leadership on the issue of violence in the world of work has been highlighted recently in ILO forums. In 2015, the ILO highlighted the issue of violence during the 104th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC), both in the resolution concerning the recurrent discussion on social protection (labour protection), and in Recommendation No. 204. This issue is, likewise, central to the ILO’s centenary initiative on women at work.
The Governing Body approved the following agenda for the Meeting of Experts:
■ review existing understandings of what is considered to be violence in the world of work, related trends, forms and incidence;
■ examine the gender dimensions of violence in the world of work;
■ review the impact of violence in the world of work on workers and enterprises, including on workers’ well-being and productivity, and firms’ performance;
■ identify groups of workers, enterprises, sectors and occupations more at risk of being subjected to violence;
■ review responses to prevent and address violence in the world of work in national and international laws and regulations, collective agreements and enterprise policies; and
■ provide, on the basis of the above, guidance for the standard-setting item on violence against women and men in the world of work that has been placed on the agenda of the International Labour Conference in June 2018. Guidance could include identifying forms of violence warranting priority consideration and responses thereto (ILO, 2016a, paras 7–8).