In pursuit of the elimination of violence and harassment in the workplace, on 26 October 2021, the Ministry of Labour’s Labour Relations Manager participated in a webinar hosted by the International Labour Organisation's Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean to raise awareness on the ILO Convention No. 190 among constituents in the Caribbean.
In June 2019, the International Labour Conference (the ILC) of the International Labour Organization (the ILO) adopted the first international treaty to address violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment, in the workplace. ILO Convention No. 190 (C190) and Recommendation No. 206 came into force on 25 June 2021. Since that time, the ILO embarked on a global campaign for C190 to be ratified and implemented by national governments and legislative assemblies worldwide.
In 2018 and 2019, Bermuda sent a tripartite delegation consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Labour, the Bermuda Trade Union Congress and the Bermuda Employer's Council, which formed a part of the UK delegation, to attend the ILC and all became part of the Violence and Harassment Standard Setting Committee that produced C190.
Having first-hand knowledge of the work that the ILC was doing regarding the adoption of C190, the Ministry of Labour embarked on a campaign to amend legislation and put measures in place to combat bullying, violence and sexual harassment in the workplace that some employees in Bermuda face.
C190 provides a broad definition of violence and harassment and sets out the framework for prevention, protection, enforcement, remedies, guidance and training. The amendments to the Employment Act 2000, which came into force on 1 June 2021, along with the Bullying and Sexual Harassment Policy Statement and corresponding documents, mirror this and adopts a practical and victim-centred approach to the unacceptable behaviours associated with bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace.
The virtual event, entitled Eliminating Violence and Harassment in the World of Work in the Caribbean, was moderated by Shireen Cuthbert of the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, and panellists included:
- The Hon. Colin Jordan, Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Barbados,
- Ms Sharon Martin, Chair of the National Tripartite Council of The Bahamas and President, Women's Association, National Congress of Trade Unions,
- Ms Stephanie Fingal, Interim CEO, the Employers' Consultative Association of Trinidad and Tobago,
- Ms Tonni Ann Brodber, Representative UN Women Multi-Country Office, UN Women,
- Ms Erica Martin, Labour Law and International Labour Standards Specialist, ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, and
- Ms Chidi King, Chief, Gender, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Branch.
Remarks were given by:
- Mr Dennis Zulu, Director, ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, and
- Mr Lars Johansen, Deputy Director, ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean.
The panellist discussed the various initiatives within the Caribbean to combat violence and harassment in the workplace. Among the countries highlighted was the work taking place in Barbados, including training and workshops with vulnerable groups and Trinidad and Tobago's Spotlight Initiative on the life cycle of violence and harassment.
The Minister of Labour, the Hon. Jason Hayward, JP, MP, said, "Although over a short time Bermuda has made significant strides to align itself with C190, I recognize that there is more work to be done. To that end, I look forward to further tripartite discussions through the Labour Advisory Council and working with various civil society organizations that play a significant role in curtailing the incidence of bullying, violence and sexual harassment in the workplace."