The International Labour Organisation is devoted to promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights, pursuing its founding mission that social justice is fundamental to universal and lasting peace. The ILO is dealing with labour issues, particularly international labour standards and decent work for all. The organisation is the only international body that survived even after 2nd world war and became the first specialized agency of United Nations. The organisation draws attention on various labour related issues such as working environment, unemployment, industrial accidents, hazardous diseases, problem of women and young worker, child labour etc. Decent Work is recognized as an ILO’s global agenda, the promotion of which means striving for economic growth with equity.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is the United Nations agency for the world of work and workers. It provides international labour standards, promotes rights at work for labours, encourages employment opportunities, the enhancement of social protection and strengthening of conversation on work-related issues. The ILO has a unique tripartite structure that deals with governments, employers and workers representatives which makes it more democratic. The structure is aimed to ensure the views of all three groups are reflected in their ILO labour standards, rights of workers, programmes, and policies, promoting decent work for all women and men. The ILO has 187 state members and it permits any member of the UN to become a member of the ILO. It has 186 of the total 193 member states of UN plus the Cook Islands, a non-UN state, joined in June 2015.
The functions of the ILO include the development and encouragement of standards for national legislation to protect labour’s rights and improve working conditions and standards of living. Till date, the organisation has created 189 legally binding and 202 legally non-binding Conventions.
History and its Origin
The ILO was founded in 1919, as a part of League of Nations by Treaty of Versailles and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019. The headquarter of ILO is located at Geneva, Switzerland. In 1946, the organisation became the first specialised agency of the United Nations. The ILO’s original and most important role has been development, promotion, and monitoring of international labour standards. The organisation received the Nobel Prize in 1969 for setting up of international labour standards, improving peace among classes, pursuing decent work and justice for workers worldwide and for providing technical assistance to other developing countries. The organisation has played a major role in decolonization process and ensuring labour rights during the Great Depression, creation of trade union (Solitariness) in Poland and the victory over apartheid in South Africa.
Structure of ILO
- International Labour Conference: also known as an International Parliament of Labour, meets annually in Geneva. It provides international labour standards and sets broad policies of ILO and is also a forum for discussing important social and labour questions.
- Governing Body: it meets three times in a year in Geneva. It is known as the executive council of the ILO. It establishes the programmes and the budget and takes policy decisions of the ILO and then submits to the Conference for adoption and further implementation. The work of the Governing Body is also supported by experts on various matters such as management development, vocational training, occupational safety and health, unemployment, worker’s education, industrial relations, etc.
- International Labour Office: is the centre for ILO’s overall activities, under the inspection of the Governing Body and under the direction of the Director-General, the office is the permanent secretariat of the ILO.
- Regional Meeting: held periodically to examine and observe the matters of special interest of the ILO member states.
Functions of the ILO
The ILO is the only tripartite agency of the United Nations, brings together governments, employers and worker representatives (trade union of workers) of 187 member states to set labour standards, develop policies to protect labour rights and formulate programmes promoting safer workplace and decent work for all women and men.
- The ILO is responsible for adoption of international labour standards in the form of conventions and control over their implementation.
- Aiding member-states in solving social and major labour problems; right to work, freedom of association, collective negotiations, protection against forced labour, protection against discrimination.
- Creation of coordinated policies and programmes, research and publication directed at solving social and labour issues
- The ILO monitors and supervise the implementation of its conventions ratified by member states.
- The ILO registers complaints against institutions that are violating international rules but however it does not impose penalty on governments.
- The main objective of the ILO is to promote and realize basic labour standards and fundamental principles of right at work and to enhance the coverage and effectiveness of social protection for all by creating greater opportunities for women and men to secure decent employment.
International Labour Standards
Conventions are regulations that members must follow if they have ratified them in a formal process. Conventions that are not ratified by member have the same value as recommendations, they are non-binding declarations or ideas that may support conventions or co-relate with different areas of practice.
The eight fundamental conventions from an indispensable part of United Nations Human Rights Framework and their ratification by member states is an important sign of their commitment to human rights. The ILO’s eight core fundamental conventions are as follows:
- Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (Convention No. 29)
- Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (Convention No. 105)
- Equal Renumeration Convention, 1951 (Convention No. 100)
- Discrimination (Occupation and Employment) Convention, 1958 (Convention No. 111)
- Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (Convention No. 87)
- Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (Convention No. 138)
- Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (Convention No. 182)
- Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1948 (Convention No. 87)
Overall, 135 members out of 183 member states have ratified all eight fundamental conventions, whereas remaining 48 member states including member states with the highest populations, have yet to complete ratification of all eight conventions.
The ILO Governing Body has also appointed four conventions as governance or priority instrument, the four governance conventions are:
- Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 (Convention No. 81)
- Employment Policy Convention, 1964 (Convention No. 122)
- Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Convention, 1969 (Convention No. 129)
- Tripartite Consultation (International labour standards) Convention, 1976 (Convention No. 144)
Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
In 1998, the ILO adopted four fundamental policies on rights at work, the Declaration commits member states to promote and respect eight fundamental principles and rights in four categories. These policies were agreed at the 86th International Labour Conference as the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
These four policies are:
- Freedom of Association and The Right to collective bargaining (Conventions 87 and 98)
- Elimination of forced or compulsory labour (Conventions No. 29 and 105)
- Abolition of child labour (Conventions No. 138 and 182)
- Elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation (Conventions No. 100 and 111)
India and ILO
India is a founding member of the ILO, became original signatory member in 1919 and it has been a permanent member of the Governing Body of the ILO since 1922. The first office of ILO was established in 1928 in India.
The ILO’s overarching goal is Decent Work i.e. promoting equal opportunities for women and men, workers to seek decent and productive work, at the heart of strategies for economic and social progress. The Decent Work agenda is interpreted into Decent Work Country Programmes (DWCP). The DWCP-India (2007-12), aligned to the 11th plan and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, mainly focuses on three priorities that are social dialogue and strengthening of workforce, informal economy and market and gender equality.
India has ratified six out of the eight ILO fundamental conventions, these conventions are:
- Forced Labour Convention
- Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
- Equal Remuneration Convention
- Discrimination (Employment Occupation) Convention
- Minimum Age Convention
- Worst forms of Child Labour Convention
India has not sanctioned the other two fundamental conventions, that are Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention and Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention.
- The main reason for non-ratification of ILO conventions No.87 & 98 is due to certain limitation imposed on the government and its servants.
- The sanction of these conventions would require granting of certain rights that are prohibited under the statutory rules, for the government servants, the right to strike, to openly criticize and condemn government policies, to freely accept a financial bribe, to freely join foreign organizations etc.
The years of association and cooperation between the ILO and India has mutual respect and trust as primary principles and is systematized in developing sustained institutional capacities and strengthening scope and functions of partners. ILO’s present day portfolio in India centres around preventing family from indebtedness employment, child labour and abuse, skills, integrated approaches for rural socio-economic development, livelihoods, green jobs, value-addition into national programmes and policies, small rural enterprises, social security, infectious diseases, migration, industrial relations, effects of globalization, productivity and competitiveness, etc.
ILO brings together governments, employers, and workers of 187 member states, to set international labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men. The foundation of the ILO is the tripartite structure i.e. the negotiations within the organisation are held between the government’s representatives, trade unions of workers and member-state’s employers.
ILO provides scientific assistance in social policy and administration and technical help in workforce training, deals with foster cooperative organisations and rural industries, conducts research on social problems of international market competition and compiles labour statistics of unemployment and underemployment and helps to protect the rights of international migrants and labour in formal sector. The organisation promotes coherent blend of social and economic justice, to develop the opportunities for all women and men to obtain equal and decent work in terms of freedom, equity, security, and dignity.
Q.1. What Are the Eight Fundamental Conventions Of ILO?
Ans. The ILO’s eight core fundamental conventions are ,Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (Convention No. 29), Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (Convention No. 105), Equal Renumeration Convention, 1951 (Convention No. 100), Discrimination (Occupation and Employment) Convention, 1958 (Convention No. 111), Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (Convention No. 87), Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (Convention No. 138), Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (Convention No. 182), Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1948 (Convention No. 87).
Q.2. How Many Members of ILO Have Ratifies All Eight Fundamental Conventions?
Ans. Overall, 135 members out of 183 member states have ratified all eight fundamental conventions, whereas remaining 48 member states including member states with the highest populations, have yet to complete ratification of all eight conventions.
Q.3. Which Organisation Became the First Specialized Agency of UN?
Ans. International Labour Organisation became the first specialized agency of United Nations.
Q.4. How Many Conventions Have India Ratified Out of The Eight ILO Fundamental Conventions?
Ans. India has ratified six out of the eight ILO fundamental conventions, these conventions are: Forced Labour Convention, Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, Equal Remuneration Convention, Discrimination (Employment Occupation) Convention, Minimum Age Convention, Worst forms of Child Labour Convention.