And as of last week, workers in this country have had this right strengthened. Even better, unions are behind this achievement.
Australia is among the first group of countries in the world to ratify the ILO (International Labour Organisation) Convention No. 190 (Violence and Harassment).
The landmark Convention recognises every worker’s right to be free from all forms of violence and harassment at work, including gender-based violence and harassment.
What led up to this moment?
The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency that brings together employers, workers and governments to address the needs of working people.
The annual conference tackles a range of issues and trade unions, governments and employers, including the setting of new international labour standards (Conventions and Recommendations) which countries are encouraged to ratify.
A big win at last year’s conference was the recognition of the fundamental right to a healthy and safe workplace in international law, after years of campaigning by workers across the globe.
This year’s conference took place last week in Geneva, where the Albanese Government ratified Convention No. 190 (Violence and Harassment).
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had announced his plan to ratify this Convention at the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) World Congress hosted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions in Melbourne last November.
After years of inaction by the Morrison Government, it’s great to see the Albanese Government ratifying this key international labour standard, which was one of the recommendations of the Respect@Work Report.
What does this move mean for workers?
The ILO Violence and Harassment Convention provides a comprehensive framework for Governments and employers to prevent, address and reduce the risks of violence and harassment at work – including gendered violence and harassment.
Australian unions played a key role in the negotiations for the Convention at the ILO Conference in 2018 and 2019, and have campaigned for its ratification since.
Its ratification will extend the recent win of 10 days paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave beyond workers covered by the National Employment Standards – meaning every employee in Australia will have access to the leave entitlement by September next year. This will save lives.
The Albanese Government also ratified another Convention at the conference – No. 138 (Minimum Age), which is a key international instrument in the fight to eliminate child labour and forced labour. This move was long overdue and signals Australia’s commitment to the protection of children from exploitation.
The Australian union movement has a long and proud history of campaigning for – and winning! – workers’ rights in Australia and around the world.