On 5 November 2019, the EFFAT Women’s Conference was held in Zagreb, on the day before the 5th EFFAT Congress, bringing together more than 80 representatives from national member organisations, IUF, IDWF, researchers, etc.

Focusing on the issue of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace, the Women’s Conference examined the results of the survey carried out among EFFAT affiliates on the features and scope of sexual harassment and violence in the agriculture, food, tourism and domestic work sectors.

Findings showed that sexual harassment and violence in the workplace is widespread in the EFFAT sectors, manifested in different forms and to different degrees of severity. A final report on the project will be published soon, providing detailed results and analysis of the findings.

National member organisations presented examples of their policies and measures to fight sexual harassment and violence at work in their sectors.

The following examples of member organisations’ campaigns, initiatives and trade union policies were presented:

  • Peter Traschkowitsch, VIDA Austria: Tatort Arbeitsplatz – Gib der Gewalt im Job keine Chance
  • Myreine Kint, CSC-ACV Belgium: RESPECT – Violences sexuelles faites aux femmes sur le lieu de travail
  • Loredana Pesoli, Confederdia Italy: Trade union training / seminars to affect public opinion and to break stereotypes
  • Tove Rita Melgård, Fellesforbundet Norway: Let’s draw the line on sexual harassment
  • Juana Gregori, FeSMC-UGT Spain: Implementation of sexual harassment protocols through company equality plans
  • Eda Güner, ÖZ-GIDA-IS Turkey: Setting-up a training and certification centre that helps to tackle economic violence against women

Julie Duchatel, IUF, addressed the Women’s Conference about the ILO Convention 190 Concerning the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, adopted at the International Labour Conference in June 2019, and called upon all national trade unions to urge their governments to ratify and implement C190. Furthermore, she reminded all member organisations of the International Framework Agreements on tackling sexual harassment and violence which IUF has signed with transnational companies in the food and hospitality sectors – such as Unilever, Sodexo, Melia, AccorInvest and Arla – and urged upon all affiliates to implement these IFAs at national level.

EFFAT’s Recommendations to protect workers from sexual harassment and violence, drafted on the basis of the survey results, the input given by member organisations, and further research, were discussed and adopted, and are now up for approval by EFFAT Congress. The action points covered fields such as awareness-raising, data and statistics, collective bargaining, policies, guidelines and protocols, legislation, as well as company and workplace policies and training – these should provide inspiration for all member organisations to act on this issue.

Furthermore, the Women’s Conference looked into EFFAT activities in the field of gender equality and domestic workers in the period 2015-2019, and discussed priorities for the next Congress mandate 2020-2024.

Sexual harassment and violence in the workplace and work-life balance will continue to be on the agenda of the EFFAT Women’s Committee for years to come, with follow-up actions from the project and the transposition of the EU Work-Life Balance Directive into national legislation foreseen in the next 2 years. Participants also expressed interest in tackling the impact of digitalisation on women workers, health and safety in the workplace from a gender perspective, and old-age poverty which predominately affects women.

Participants welcomed EFFAT’s increased activity in the field of domestic workers over recent years: the final discussion focused on the EFFAT Women’s Committee Motion: “Strengthening the Domestic Work Sector in EFFAT”, which was unanimously approved and is now up for endorsement by EFFAT Congress.

The Women’s Conference drew to a close by confirming the new leadership of the Women’s Committee: Suzann Dräther, NGG Germany was elected new Chair; Margot Sastre, CCOO Industria Spain, and Debi Bell, UNITE the Union UK, were elected Vice-Chairs. Participants thanked Marianne Landa, VIDA Austria, and Francesca Grassini, FILCAMS-CGIL, Italy, for having led the EFFAT Women’s Committee during the last Congress period.

Finally, the Women’s Conference discussed the future composition of the EFFAT Women’s Committee. Owing to the substantial interest expressed in joining the Women’s Committee, conference agreed to bypass the previous rule limiting membership to 2 representatives and 2 deputies from the 7 EFFAT regions, determining in future to leave open to all interested member organisations participation in meetings and projects in the field of gender equality. The Women’s Committee will take up these discussions further, agreeing upon the committee’s future structure and working method.