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General Studies 2 >> International Organisations

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1. Context
The global unemployment rate is expected to fall slightly to 4.9% this year from 5.0% in 2023, even as inequalities in labour markets persist, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on 29/05/2024
2. What is the International Labour Organisation (ILO)?
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency whose mandate is to advance social and economic justice by setting international labour standards. Founded in October 1919 under the League of Nations, it is one of the first and oldest specialised agencies of the UN
  • The ILO has 187 member states: 186 out of 193 UN member states plus the Cook Islands. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with around 40 field offices around the world, and employs some 3,381 staff across 107 nations, of whom 1,698 work in technical cooperation programmes and project
  • Unlike other United Nations specialized agencies, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has a tripartite governing structure that brings together governments, employers, and workers of 187 member States, to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.
  • The structure is intended to ensure the views of all three groups are reflected in ILO labour standards, policies, and programmes, though governments have twice as many representatives as the other two groups
3. What is the History behind the Establishment?
The establishment of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 1919 is rooted in the historical context of the early 20th century, marked by significant social, economic, and political changes.
Here is a detailed overview of the history behind its establishment:
  • The late 18th and 19th centuries saw the rise of the Industrial Revolution, which brought about profound changes in the nature of work. While industrialization led to economic growth, it also resulted in poor working conditions, long hours, child labor, and inadequate wages for workers. The social consequences of these changes highlighted the need for labor reform.
  • By the late 19th century, labor movements and social reformers across Europe and North America were advocating for better working conditions, workers' rights, and social justice. These movements were influential in shaping public opinion and policy towards labor issues.
  •  Before the ILO's establishment, there were several international congresses and conferences focused on labor issues. For instance, the International Association for Labour Legislation was founded in 1900, aiming to harmonize labor laws across countries. These early efforts demonstrated a growing recognition of the need for international cooperation on labor standards.
  • The First World War (1914-1918) had devastating social and economic effects, exacerbating labor issues and highlighting the interconnectedness of nations. The war underscored the importance of international cooperation in promoting peace and social stability.
  • Following the end of World War I, the Versailles Peace Conference was convened in 1919 to negotiate the terms of peace and to address the causes of conflict. One of the key issues recognized was the need for improved labor conditions to ensure lasting peace.
  • Treaty of Versailles: The ILO was established as part of the Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended World War I. The inclusion of labor provisions in the treaty reflected the recognition that social justice and decent working conditions were essential for international peace and stability.

  • Founding Principles: The ILO's Constitution, included in the Treaty of Versailles, was based on the belief that universal peace can only be established if it is based on social justice. It set forth several key principles:

    • Labor should not be regarded merely as a commodity or article of commerce.
    • The right to association and the right to collective bargaining should be recognized.
    • Working conditions should be humane, ensuring adequate living wages, reasonable hours, and protection against sickness, disease, and injury.
    • Special protection should be afforded to children, young persons, and women.
4. What is the Organisational Structure of ILO?

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has a distinctive organizational structure designed to ensure representation and participation from governments, employers, and workers. This tripartite structure is central to its functioning and decision-making processes. Here's a detailed overview of the ILO's organizational structure:

International Labour Conference (ILC)

  • Role: The ILC is the ILO's supreme decision-making body, often referred to as the "world parliament of labour."
  • Functions: It meets annually to set the broad policies of the ILO, adopt international labor standards (Conventions and Recommendations), and approve the ILO's work program and budget.
  • Composition: The ILC is composed of representatives from each member state, with a tripartite delegation:
    • Government Delegates: Two representatives per member state.
    • Employer Delegates: One representative per member state.
    • Worker Delegates: One representative per member state.
5. What are the Functions of the ILO?
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) performs a wide range of functions aimed at promoting social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights.
Here are the key functions of the ILO:
  • The ILO develops and adopts international labour standards in the form of Conventions and Recommendations. These standards cover a wide array of labour issues, including workers' rights, working conditions, social protection, and occupational safety and health.
  • Member states can ratify these Conventions, committing themselves to adhere to the standards. The ILO monitors compliance and provides guidance on implementation.
  • The ILO promotes fundamental principles and rights at work, such as freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of forced and child labour, and the elimination of discrimination in employment.
  • It provides technical assistance to countries to help them create and enforce laws and policies that uphold these rights.
  • The ILO supports initiatives aimed at creating more and better jobs, especially for vulnerable groups such as youth, women, and persons with disabilities
  • It promotes vocational training and skills development to enhance employability and adaptability in the labor market
  • Encourages entrepreneurship and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as a means to generate employment.
6.What are the Core Conventions of the ILO?

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has identified eight Conventions as "fundamental" or "core" Conventions. These Conventions cover fundamental principles and rights at work and are considered crucial for ensuring decent work and social justice. The ILO's core Conventions are:

Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87)

  • Adoption: 1948
  • Purpose: Protects the right of workers and employers to form and join organizations of their own choosing without prior authorization.
  • Key Provisions: Ensures that workers and employers can organize freely and prohibits interference by public authorities.

2Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98)

  • Adoption: 1949
  • Purpose: Provides protection against anti-union discrimination and promotes collective bargaining.
  • Key Provisions: Protects workers from dismissal or prejudice due to union membership and activities, and promotes voluntary negotiation between employers and workers' organizations.

Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29)

  • Adoption: 1930
  • Purpose: Aims to suppress the use of forced or compulsory labor in all its forms.
  • Key Provisions: Requires the abolition of all forms of forced or compulsory labor, with exceptions for military service, normal civic obligations, and certain emergencies.

Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105)

  • Adoption: 1957
  • Purpose: Complements Convention No. 29 by prohibiting the use of any form of forced labor as a means of political coercion, labor discipline, punishment for participation in strikes, or discrimination.
  • Key Provisions: Mandates the elimination of forced labor for political purposes, economic development, labor discipline, punishment for strikes, and racial, social, national, or religious discrimination.

Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138)

  • Adoption: 1973
  • Purpose: Establishes a minimum age for admission to employment to ensure that children are not employed in work that is harmful to their health or development.
  • Key Provisions: Sets the general minimum age for employment at not less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling and, in any case, not less than 15 years (13 for light work, 18 for hazardous work).

Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182)

  • Adoption: 1999
  • Purpose: Urges immediate and effective measures to prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labor.
  • Key Provisions: Defines the worst forms of child labor, including slavery, trafficking, forced labor, prostitution, and involvement in armed conflict. Calls for urgent action to eliminate these practices.

Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100)

  • Adoption: 1951
  • Purpose: Promotes equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value.
  • Key Provisions: Mandates the principle of equal pay for equal work, requiring member states to ensure that wage discrimination based on sex is eliminated.

Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111)

  • Adoption: 1958
  • Purpose: Aims to eliminate discrimination in employment and occupation.
  • Key Provisions: Prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction, or social origin, and promotes equal opportunity and treatment in employment.
For Prelims: GS III- Economy, ILO
For Mains: GS-III: Economy
Source: Indianexpress

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