Building Workers’ Power

November 25, 2020 – Statement, Women working from home

Women who work from home need extra protection against cyberbullying.

Workplace harassment laws need to be updated to protect women working from home against cyberbullying made possible by surveillance techniques used by employers.

The unions have called for a letter to national ministers on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls.

Women working on the Covid front line, particularly caretakers, transport workers, shop assistants and cleaners, have faced face-to-face abuse during the crisis.

But many of the harassment in the workplace faced by women has moved online during the isolation facilitated by the intrusion tools used by many companies.

To counter the new threat, unions are urging countries to ratify a new ILO convention that would engage them to prevent and address cyberbullying and harassment. The ILO says of the convention:

“Convention no. 190 protects against all forms of violence and harassment in the world of work. The convention is based on a broad concept of the ‘world of work’ which takes into account the fact that nowadays work does not always take place in a physical workplace. For example, it covers violence and harassment that occur during work-related travel, when moving to and from work, in employer-provided accommodation, or through work-related communications, including those provided by information and communication technologies. ”

The convention, which will enter into force next year, is the first international labor standard to address violence and harassment in the world of work. Governments and employers who are members of the ILO agreed to the Convention and committed themselves to improving laws, services and procedures for dealing with violence and harassment.

ETUC Deputy Secretary General Esther Lynch said:

“Although there are some laws, policies and services, violence and harassment at work remains a major problem, especially for women. Today there are not sufficiently effective mechanisms to prevent and address cyberbullying, and especially to prevent intrusive surveillance.

“Companies generally know or can easily figure out how to deal with bullying at work, but they need to update their procedures to apply it to bullying of workers who work from home. The trend towards work at home will continue after the COVID pandemic so the ILO convention is timely and requires urgent attention.

“The best way to make progress is for governments to provide the right legal framework to address issues such as cyberbullying, cyber surveillance and to encourage employers to negotiate procedures with unions. “This has already been proven to be successful as companies with a union have 60% less sexual harassment.”

The Convention also engages governments and employers to mitigate the impact of domestic violence including when the home is the workplace, as is increasingly the case especially with COVID. It also calls for measures such as leave for victims, flexible work arrangements, temporary protection against dismissal and to provide workplace support for victims of domestic violence.


Full letter to the ministers: https: // /…/ Letter% 20to% 20nacional

The ILO says: “The rise of teleworking also seems to be translating into an increase in online harassment. Arrange general teleworking arrangements may lead to a higher risk of technology-enabled violence and harassment (often referred to as’ harassment in internet”).

According to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights

16% of women in the EU said the most serious violence from a non-partner occurred at work

11% of women in the EU have experienced sexual and / or physical violence from someone at work

https: // /…/ survey-data-explorer-violence