BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 12th March 2021)- President of the Industrial Court of Trinidad and Tobago Her Honour Deborah Thomas-Felix has praised the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Violence and Harassment Convention – C190 as “a step in the right direction to achieve dignity and safety in the world of work.”
She made the disclosure while speaking at a webinar in observance of International Women’s Day held on Monday 8th March, streamed live via Youtube.

The event was organized by The Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies (CCLCS), in collaboration with the National Trade Union Centre of Trinidad and Tobago (NATUC) and the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL).

Focus was made on the Implications and Imperatives for the Caribbean of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Violence and Harassment Convention – C190.

According to Thomas-Felix, “A very interesting and important feature of this convention of the recommendations is the impact of domestic violence in the world of work. The Convention has taken a significant step to [address] the issue of domestic violence.”
 “This is a significant step in bringing domestic violence out of the shadows and encouraging a change of attitude towards this problem. In my view, when a country ratifies this instrument, it is stating very loudly and boldly that violence and harassment will not be tolerated in society and this is a very powerful message,” she also noted.

As gathered, to date the convention has been ratified by 4 countries so far Uruguay (the first one), Namibia Fiji and Argentina and that it is expected to come into force in June 2021.

“It is the first ever international treaty to regard work based violence and harassment as human rights violation. No doubt the activism of the trade union movement worldwide and the MeToo Movement against gender violence and harassment contributed significantly to the development of this convention which will become, when it comes into force, an international labour standard,” Thomas-Felix remarked.

She addressed concerns regarding violence amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it would be remiss of me not to note the transformation of our Caribbean societies from peaceful friendly welcoming nations to societies plagued by violence, fear and grief and societies where there continue to be rampant crime and injustice against our women, our boys and our girls.”

She continued: “Within recent times, in Trinidad and Tobago, we could help but to recoil in horror as we learn of violent and pernicious nature of the murders of our women. Moreover, the daily stresses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has added an extra layer of uncertainty, insecurities and fear in the lives of citizens.”

Thomas-Felix said crisis and frontline workers face additional stress so too are domestic workers, persons who own businesses who have to consider whether their business will survive through the pandemic and several workers who worry about an uncertain future.

“All these stresses can lead to more violence at home and violence and harassment in the workplace. To add to this, there’s the violence and harassment and to add to this violence and harassment in the workplace in the Caribbean is so pervasive  and continues to exist  for the most part due to the unequal power  and the power play dynamics in the  workplace between employers and workers and undermines gender equality,” she expressed.