Empowering women unionists to end GBVs in the world of work

The elimination of violence and harassment in the workplace is a must. This agenda is very important to ensure that workplaces are safe and productive places for all. In order to better understand the forms of violence and harassment that may happen in the world of work, Public Services International (PSI) organized a training workshop for union leaders and women union activists in Indonesia. 

Twenty-three union leaders of PSI affiliates participated in the training-workshop from May 8 - 10 at 5G Resort, Bogor, Indonesia where the participants learned about the importance of ILO Convention 190, On Violence and Harassment in the World of Work.

The training-program has four main objectives: first, to create a group of union leaders and activists as campaigners to advocate and encourage the implementation of ILO Convention 190 within the union; second, to develop the skill and knowledge of union leaders and activists so that they could effectively campaign for the right of a world free from violence and harassment; third, is to build stronger unions through the training of leaders and activists who are capable of using this instrument and then integrate the ILO Convention 190 into their collective bargaining agenda for negotiation  and; fourth, boost PSI affiliates’ participation in the national movement to ratify the ILO Convention 190.

PSI worked together with Indah Sapto from IndustriAll and Ira Laila from FSPKEP-SPSI who led the workshop as trainers and facilitators. They used a pedagogic method in the training. Participants were encouraged to discuss the conditions related to the rules and regulations at their respective workplaces. 

GBVs: concepts, realities, and opportunities for collective bargaining 

On the first day, the trainers invited the participants to recognize the concept of gender-based violence. Crucial was the clear understanding of sex and gender as different concepts. Sex refers to the biological characteristics that humans are born with, i.e., whether one was born with male or female reproductive organs. Sex also covers other biological factors, such as hormones and certain physical features. Meanwhile, gender refers to social role, behavior, and identity that match with certain sex in a specific culture. Gender does not always correlate to biological sex, and one can identify themselves as men, women, or non-binary gender (not fully male nor female) regardless of their biological sex.

After understanding what is gender and sex, participants then did the “gender checklist” exercise by investigating women workers’ rights in their respective CBAs. For example, rights related to menstruation leave, maternity and miscarriage leave, the right to breastfeed and daycare, hygiene, proper canteen, protection from sexual violence and harassment, family allowance, health and safety, and women’s participation in the union. In this session, participants also formulated a list of the recommended CBAs provisions to ensure the protection of women workers’ rights in the workplace.

The third session focused more on understanding violence and harassment at the workplace as well as gender-based violence (GBVs). By using body mapping and workplace mapping, participants worked in groups to identify different forms of sexual violence and harassment and GBVs that women may encounter at work.

Policies and standards on violence and harassment

On the second day,  participants identified national and international instruments and standards related to sexual violence and harassment. These include standards issued by the government, APINDO, ILO C190 and Recommendation 206 on violence and harassment. 

Participants then discussed companies’ policies, CBAs, and company regulation on sexual violence and harassment existing in their respective workplaces.

In this session, the trainer also introduced the concept of “joint commitment” between trade unions and employers to fight against sexual violence and harassment. The joint commitment refers to the ILO Convention 190 and ILO Recommendation 206. It contains, among others: joint commitment between employers and trade unions, definition of violence and sexual harassment including maternity violence and economic violence. A few examples on “joint commitment” that were identified were: 

  • to promote, educate, train, and to do socialization on sexual violence and sexual harassment in the world of work

  • to form a team and establish procedures for handling complaints, the stages of formal complaints, ensuring that everyone gets convenience and protection as a victim or witness and;

  • to ensure that those who have been determined as perpetrator/s are sanctioned without exception.

The third session in the second day was a discussion and information sharing on the companies’ policies in their workplaces, i.e. what are the settlement mechanisms available, and an analysis of each CBAs. The session also introduced a CBA model that contained articles about sexual violence and harassment in the world of work, including occupational safety and health (OSH) principles that protect against sexual and harassment. 

Concrete steps

On the third day, the trainers introduced the concrete steps that can be taken towards the elimination of gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work. In this session, the trainer also explained the Ministry of Women and Empowerment and Child Protection Regulation No, 01/2020 on the Safehouse for women workers in the world of work.

In the last session, participants discussed in groups their workplace situation in order to formulate what points that they can focus on in their follow up plan. The follow up plans include joint commitments between employer and trade union the following areas: 

  • zero tolerance against sexual violence and harassment in the world of work

  • socialization, education, and campaign against the violence and harassment in the world of work, and; 

  • improvement of CBA to have better protection for women workers.