ILO is the only tripartite U.N. agency, since 1919 the ILO 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.

  • It Was created in 1919 by the Versailles Peace Treaty ending World War I.  
  • After the demise of the League of Nations, the ILO became the first specialized agency associated with the UN.  
  • Members: The organization has 187 of the 193 UN member states plus the Cook Islands (a nation in the South Pacific, with political links to New Zealand).  
  • Its secretariat is in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • In 1988, the international labour conference adopted the “Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work”.  
  • The declaration aims to eliminate all forms of forced or compulsory labour, abolition of child labour and the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation.  
  • It publishes the Global Wage report.
  • India is a founder member of the ILO.
  • In 2017 India has ratified two key ILO global conventions- Convention 138 and Convention 182.  
  • Convention 138 calls for the minimum age for employment to be not less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling. In India, it is 14 years according to the Right to Education Act. 
  • Convention 182 penalises and prohibits the worst form of child labour. It includes all forms of slavery including 
    • sale and trafficking, debt bondage, serfdom, forced labour, recruitment in armed conflict.
    • prostitution or production of pornography 
    • production and trafficking of drugs etc  Conventions 138 and 182 of the United Nations body leave it to the member-states to determine what constitutes acceptable or unacceptable work for children at different ages.
  •  Countries which ratify any of the ILO conventions must go through a periodical reporting system every 4 years. The government has to prove they are making progress.

Core Conventions of ILO

The 8 Core Conventions of the ILO (also called fundamental/human rights conventions) are: 

1. Forced Labour Convention (No. 29) 

2. Abolition of Forced Labour Convention (No.105) 

3. Equal Remuneration Convention (No.100) 

4. Discrimination (Employment Occupation) Convention (No.111) 

5. Minimum Age Convention (No.138)

6. Worst forms of Child Labour Convention (No.182) 

7. Freedom of Association and Protection of Right to Organised Convention (No.87) 

8. Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention (No.98)  Conventions 87 & 98 have not been ratified by India.

India has ratified six out of the eight core/fundamental International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions.

India has not ratified the core/fundamental Conventions, namely Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87) and Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98).

Main bodies of ILO:

The ILO accomplishes its work through three main bodies which comprise governments', employers' and workers' representatives:

  • The International labour Conference  sets the International labour standards and the broad policies of the ILO. It meets annually in Geneva. Often called an international parliament of labour, the Conference is also a forum for discussion of key social and labour questions.
  • The Governing body  is the executive council of the ILO. It meets three times a year in Geneva. It takes decisions on ILO policy and establishes the programme and the budget, which it then submits to the Conference for adoption.
  • The International Labour Office  is the permanent secretariat of the International Labour Organization. It is the focal point for the International Labour Organization's overall activities, which it prepares under the scrutiny of the Governing Body and under the leadership of the Director-General.

Recently the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s Global Commission on the Future of Work has published the Future of work report 2019 titled " Work for a brighter future".

  • The report calls on governments to take steps to address the challenges caused by unprecedented transformations going on in the world of work.

Key Findings

  • According to ILO, Globally 190 million people are unemployed, while 300 million workers live in extreme poverty. At the same time wage gaps are growing at a time of declining wage growth.
  • Technological advances – artificial intelligence, automation and robotics – will create new jobs, but those who lose their jobs in this transition may be the least equipped to seize the new opportunities.
  • Adopting sustainable practices with clean technologies will create millions of jobs but other jobs will disappear as countries scale back their carbon- and resource-intensive industries.For example:
    • Implementing the Paris Climate Agenda could create 24 million new jobs, but it could still be brutal to the 6 million workers expected to lose their jobs in the transition to a greener economy.
  • Changes in demographics are significant as expanding youth populations in some parts of the world and ageing populations in others may place pressure on labour markets and social security systems, yet in these shifts lie new possibilities to afford care and inclusive, active societies.
  • The future of work requires a strong and responsive social protection system based on the principles of solidarity and risk sharing, which supports people’s needs over the life cycle
  • There is an urgent need to seize the opportunities presented by these transformative changes to create a brighter future and deliver economic security, equal opportunity and social justice – and ultimately reinforce the fabric of our societies.