MOHR, MTUC and MEF should support ratification of ILO Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment

Press Statement by Labour Law Reform Coalition on 26 November 2020 in Shah Alam

In conjunction with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the 16 days of activism, Labour Law Reform Coalition (LLRC), a coalition of 58 trade unions and NGOs, urges Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR), Malaysian Trades Unions Congress (MTUC) and Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) to support ratification of the ILO Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment in the next International Labour Conference (ILC) as a mean to curb violence and harassment in the world of work.

The 108th ILC adopted the Convention 190 in Geneva on 21 June 2019. As a member of International Labour Organisation, it is the responsibility of Malaysian government to present the convention and seek adoption in the parliament. It is also the duty of tripartite members to comply with their international obligations.

We call upon MOHR and MEF to review its position in the last ILC. MOHR has taken an “abstain” position while MEF voted against the convention. MTUC also voted against the convention, but after that the former MTUC President Abdul Halim Mansor said it was a misunderstanding and MTUC would support ratification of the convention. We hope the new leadership of MTUC will continue to commit to the agenda.

It is important to note that sexual harassment and violence in Malaysia are on the rise. According to Women’s Aid Organisation, the police received less than 100 reports of sexual harassment in 2001, but the number has significantly increased to more than 338 in 2016. There are 1682 rape cases in 2017, many sexual assaults at workplaces are unreported as predators are often at higher position and because of victim-blaming environment.

Ratification of ILO Convention 190 will show tripartite members’ commitment to ensure gender equality and protect women rights in the country, which is in line with the article 8 of the Federal Constitution (equality) and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) ratified by Malaysian government.

In addition, LLRC proposes the government to include Code of Practice on the Prevention and Eradication of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace in the upcoming Employment Act amendments to ensure it is enforceable. We also support enactment of a stand-alone Sexual Harassment Act to eliminate harassment against men and women.

We urge MOHR, MTUC and MEF to hold social dialogues with LLRC on ratification of Convention 190. Let’s work together to eliminate gender discrimination in Malaysia.

Yours sincerely,
N.Gopalkishnam & Irene Xavier
Labour Law Reform Coalition