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Coalition Pushes For New Zealand To Join Global Efforts To End Violence In The World Of Work

A union-led coalition is calling for the New Zealand Government to ratify an international labour convention to create a formal framework for addressing violence and harassment at work.

The ‘Coalition for a Safe World of Work’ is officially launching its campaign on Tuesday, with a range of guest speakers and allies coming together in the Auckland’s central city to spread the word.

The International Labour Organisation’s Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (190) provides a framework for the legal, cultural, and industrial changes necessary to eliminate violence, in all its forms, from the world of work.

It has so far been ratified by 14 other countries, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Fiji, and others in Africa and South America.

Unite Union co-president and hospitality worker, Xavier Walsh, says violence and harassment at work is massive issue for many workers, including those in hospitality.

“When I was 16, I was bullied by my boss. He used to taunt me by calling me ‘fat’ and saying that I should ‘try going for a run’.

“Every time he tried to say something, I remembered that I needed the job more than I disliked his remarks,” they say.

Xavier, who is also currently a university student, then went onto to experience sexual assault in their next hospitality job.

They say part of what makes the convention so special is that it protects everyone, regardless of their status at work, against any form of violence or harassment.

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“No worker should have to choose between their mental, physical, sexual integrity or dignity and their right to work – ever.”

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) vice-president and coalition coordinator, Rachel Mackintosh, says the C190 convention is a vital step to eliminate violence and harassment from the world of work, as it sets this down as a right.

“The convention provides a comprehensive response that will complement mechanisms that we already have in place.

“What this looks like in practice is a nation where both employers and working people will have the tools they need to stop bullying and harassment in its tracks and support survivors.

“We’ll also know how to create safe workplaces where the focus is on preventing bullying and harassment from occurring in the first place,” she says.

Rachel says achieving safe working environments for all will take a societal shift.

“When New Zealand ratifies the convention, government policy, laws, and practices right across workplaces will be based on the expectation that respect for each other is paramount.

“We call upon the Government to commit to ratification and to set in motion the steps necessary to achieve it.”

WHEN: Tuesday 17 May
WHERE: Te Hā o Hine Place, between Kitchener Street and Lorne Street, Auckland 1011
TIME: 12.30pm

The event will feature speeches, singing, placards, and petition signing.

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