Equality and violence issues in collective agreements

This page shows the results of the analysis of equality and violence clauses in collective agreements around the world.

The paper Are collective agreements around the world doing their job in increasing equality and promoting work/family balance arrangements? The analysis from the WageIndicator database (presented at the “5th Conference of the Regulating for Decent Work Network” at the ILO, Switzerland, 3-5 July 2017) analyzed the content of 700 collective agreements from 46 countries in Africa, Europe, Latin America and South Asia.


Table 1 shows how many collective agreements contain clauses related to equality, and in which areas of the world.

Table 1

Area of the world CBAs with clauses on equality Total CBAs analyzed Percentage of CBAs with clauses on equality
South Asia 108 113 96%
Europe 55 87 63%
Central America 40 70 57%
Africa 81 320 25%
South America 20 110 18%
All continents 304 700 43%

Source: WageIndicator CBA database, accessed 1/6/2017.

In the four South Asian countries analyzed, almost all collective agreements contain clauses on equality. In Europe and Central America around 60% of the CBAs address such topics, and in Africa the percentage goes down to 25%. In South America only 18% of the CBAs consider equality in their texts.

Discrimination and equal opportunities

Graph 1 offers an insight on the collective agreements addressing discrimination and/or equal opportunities, and displays them per area of the world.

Graph 1

Discrimination in CBAs - July 2017

Discrimination at work is addressed in most of South Asian collective agreements, in half of the CBAs from Europe, in more than one third of Central American CBAs and in around 10% of South American and African agreements. 

The situation changes drastically with gender-related clauses: equal opportunities for promotion for women workers are only addressed in 5% of the agreements in the database and – except in Europe - only in a few countries per continent: in Ghana and Uganda, (two agreements in total), in Indonesia (three CBAs), in El Salvador (five CBAs), in Colombia and Peru (two agreements in total). Europe is the only area of the world where 28% of CBAs contain clauses on equal opportunities for promotion, and 22% on equal opportunities for training and retraining of women workers. As to this second topic, only 3% of the analyzed CBAs in the world provide for this: none in South Asia and South America, and only four CBAs in Africa and one in El Salvador.

Sexual harassment and violence at work

Graph 2 shows the percentage of agreements addressing topics like sexual harassment and violence.

Graph 2

Sexual Harassment and Violence in CBAs - July 2017

Almost all collective agreements from South Asia contain clauses addressing violence at work. In Africa and Latin America, violence is clearly forbidden in less than 10% of the CBAs, while in Europe the percentage is a higher (26%).

In the entire database, only 14% of the collective agreements provide for clauses against sexual harassment at work, and in Africa and South America the percentage is again much lower than the average.

Data show that there is still much room for improvement in these areas of the world to guarantee a violence-free workplace for women.