Workplace violence

House Dems urge support of gender-based workplace violence prevention standard

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UPDATE: This article was updated with USCIB’s response on Nov. 6.

Washington – House Democrats are urging the United States Council for International Business to support the International Labor Organization’s efforts to address gender-based workplace violence.

In an Oct. 23 letter, 35 member of the House pointed to the business advocacy group’s opposition to proposals discussed during a March 2014 meeting of ILO’s Governing Board, claiming the objections hindered efforts to combat gender-based workplace violence.

“Women are the driving force of many global industries, comprising, for example, the majority of the workforce in the worldwide textile industry,” the letter states. “Tragically, however, their contribution comes at the cost of severe physical and economic violence exacted upon them.” The letter asks USCIB to reconsider its position and show support for a workplace violence standard at ILO’s November session.

ILO’s proposal would provide guidance on addressing inadequate legal protections for victims of gender-based violence at work. Current assault and rape laws are insufficient to protect these victims, the representatives state in the letter, adding that without strong laws addressing gender-based violence, employers face lost productivity or higher costs associated with ensuring worker safety.

In a response sent to the Democrats on Oct. 24, USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg said the organization welcomes initiatives that spread U.S. employers’ best practices on combating gender violence.

ILO is not expected to decide until March what initiatives will be included on the 2017 International Labor Conference agenda, Goldberg said.

In the intervening period, she added, USCIB intends to work with ILO and the International Organization of Employers to “reach agreement on a focused proposal for ILO action that has the best and most timely chance of making a real difference on the ground and around the world.”