SAK calls for government action to end violence and harassment at work

The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) is concerned at the increase in harassment, violence and associated intimidation at work in Finland. It is time to negotiate an international convention enabling more effective measures to tackle this issue.
14.05. 12:41
ILO headquarters in Geneva. Photo: BiiJii / Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Violence and harassment take many forms, ranging from forms of persecution and discrimination that are hard to prove to more overt armed and other assaults on the lives and health of workers. Anyone may fall victim to violence and harassment at work.

Paula Ilveskivi

"Violence and harassment at work have dire consequences for individuals, businesses, the economy and society at large. The legislative response to these harmful impacts has been inadequate, with present occupational health and safety standards failing to provide enough protection against such workplace hazards for employees," says SAK Senior Legal Advisor Paula Ilveskivi.

SAK is pleased that this issue is now on the agenda for the International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in summer 2018 and 2019 with a view to realising a new Convention and subsequent supplementary Recommendation on violence and harassment.

"No clear international legal framework addressing this problem currently exists that would define violence and harassment at work and its scope."

SAK expects the government of Finland to take active steps to bring about a Convention at the ILO Labour Conference supporting the right of workers to protection from violence and harassment.

"An international Convention on violence and harassment will be an important measure for finally developing legislation to protect workers from violence and harassment in the world of work. It would also promote the global adoption of principles of the ILO Decent Work Agenda, with impacts not confined solely to workers."

SAK points out that efforts to develop legislation preventing violence and harassment, instituting appropriate means of protection, after-care and reporting, and ensuring due process for victims have failed time and again in Finland.

"Efforts to bring about more detailed provisions in Finland to eradicate violence and harassment at work have foundered on opposition from employers, with the government lacking the political will to enact such instruments in Finnish legislation."