The International Labor Organization (ILO) is the United Nations agency for the
world of work. It sets international labor standards, promotes rights at work,
and encourages decent employment opportunities, the enhancement of social
protection, and the strengthening of dialogue on work-related issues.
has a unique tripartite structure bringing together governments, employers’ and
workers’ representatives. ILO’s mandate of social justice as the basis for peace
is expressed today as Decent Work for all. Decent Work is recognized as a global
goal, the promotion of which means striving for economic growth with equity,
though a coherent blend of social and economic goals, to contribute to
opportunities for all women and men to obtain decent and productive work in
conditions of freedom, equity, security, and dignity.
ILO in India
India, a Founding Member of the ILO, has been a permanent member of the ILO
Governing Body since 1922. The first ILO Office in India started in 1928. The
decades of productive partnership between the ILO and its constituents has
mutual trust and respect as underlying principles and is grounded in building
sustained institutional capacities and strengthening capacities of partners. It
has a two-directional focus for socio-economic development: overall strategies
and ground-level approaches. India has witnessed rapid economic growth in the
last two decades and has emerged as one of the fastest-growing middle-income
countries worldwide in recent years. From 2007 to 2016, India’s economy has more
than doubled, growing by 112 percent.
India’s share in world GDP increased from an average of 4.8 percent during
2001-07 to 7.5 percent in 2017, in purchasing power terms. The share of
workers in the unorganized sector (enterprises with fewer than ten workers,
including own-account workers) fell from 86.3 percent in 2004-05 to 84.3 percent
in 2009-10, and further to 82.2 percent in 2011-12
Decent Work Country Programs
The ILO's overarching goal is Decent Work, i.e., promoting opportunities for all
women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom,
equity, security, and dignity. DW is at the heart of ILO's strategies for
economic and social progress, central to efforts to reduce poverty and a means
to achieve equitable, inclusive, and sustainable development India's 11th Plan's
the vision of faster and inclusive growth through a process that yields
broad-based benefits and ensures equality of opportunity for all – with a strong
emphasis on decent working and living conditions for all. Several India's 11th
Plan targets align with the DW agenda.
The DW concept is translated into Decent Work Country Programmes (DWCPs),
prepared and adopted by the tripartite constituents and ILO, at country levels.
The DWCP-India (2007-12), aligned to the 11th Plan and the United Nations
Development Assistance Framework focuses on 3 priorities.
Priority 1: Opportunities enhanced for productive work for women and men,
particularly for youth and vulnerable groups, especially through skills
Priority 2: Social protection progressively extended, particularly in the
context of in formalization;
Priority 3: Unacceptable forms of work progressively eliminated.
The cross-cutting issues are a special focus while implementing the DWCP under
the three priority areas are:
- Social dialogue and strengthening of partners;
- Informal economy; and
- Gender equality.
ILO's current portfolio in India centers around child labor, preventing family
indebtedness employment, skills, integrated approaches for local socio-economic
development and livelihoods promotion, green jobs, value-addition into national
programs, micro and small enterprises, social security, HIV/AIDS, migration,
industrial relations, dealing with the effects of globalization, productivity,
and competitiveness, etc. The Decent Work Technical Support Team (DWT) for South
Asia stationed in New Delhi, through its team of Specialists provide technical
support at policy and operational levels to member States in the sub-region.
ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and its Follow-up (1998)
On 18 June 1998, at its 86th session, the International Labor Conference adopted
the Declaration on Fundamental Principles. The declaration reiterates the
binding nature of Philadelphia. Declaration and requires compliance of the core
conventions covering the following aspects even by those countries that have not
ratified the relevant conventions:
- Freedom of association (No.87) and the effective recognition of the
right to collective bargaining (No. 98).
- The elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor (Nos. 29 and
105). In 1999 the ILO adopted Convention No. 182 concerning Immediate Action for
the Abolition of the Worst Forms of Child Labour. This became the eighth core
- The effective abolition of child labor (No. 138).
- The elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and
occupation (Nos.100 and 111).
All member countries of the ILO are required to submit a report on their
progress in implementing the principles enshrined in the above conventions. The
ILO, in turn, will prepare a report each year on one of the above four
categories of fundamental principles and rights. The report will be based on the
information gathered and assessed by established procedures.
In the case of
member-states that have not ratified the fundamental conventions, the report
will be based on the findings of the annual follow-up. In the case of member
countries that have ratified these conventions, the report will be dealt
accordance with Article 22 of the ILO Constitution.
International Labour Standards Conventions
The principal means of action in the ILO is the setting up the International
Labor Standards in the form of Conventions and Recommendations. Conventions are
international treaties and are instruments, which create legally binding
obligations on the countries that ratify them. Recommendations are non-binding
and set out guidelines orienting national policies and actions.
The approach of India to International Labor Standards has always been positive.
The ILO instruments have provided guidelines and a useful framework for the
evolution of legislative and administrative measures for the protection and
advancement of the interest of labor. To that extent, the influence of ILO
Conventions as a standard of reference for labor legislation and practices in
India, rather than as a legally binding norm, has been significant. Ratification
of a Convention imposes legally binding obligations on the country concerned
and, therefore, India has been careful in ratifying Conventions.
It has always
been the practice in India that we ratify a Convention when we are fully
satisfied that our laws and practices conform with the relevant ILO Convention.
It is now considered that a better course of action is to proceed with
progressive implementation of the standards, leave the formal ratification for
consideration at a later stage when it becomes practicable. We have so far
ratified 41 Conventions of the ILO, which is much better than the position
existing in many other countries. Even where for special reasons, India may not
be in a position to ratify a Convention, India has generally voted in favor of
the Conventions reserving its position as far as its future ratification is
concerned. Core Conventions of the ILO: -
The eight Core Conventions of the ILO (also called fundamental/human rights
- Forced Labor Convention (No. 29)
- Abolition of Forced Labor Convention (No.105)
- Equal Remuneration Convention (No.100)
- Discrimination (Employment Occupation) Convention (No.111)
- Minimum Age Convention (No.138)
- Worst forms of Child Labour Convention (No.182)
(The above Six have been ratified by India)
- Freedom of Association and Protection of Right to Organised Convention (No.87)
- Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention (No.98)
(These two have not been ratified by India)
Resulting to the World Summit for Social Development in 1995, the previously
mentioned Conventions (Sl.No. 1,5,7 and 8) were classified as the Fundamental
Human Rights Conventions or Core Conventions by the ILO. Later on, Convention
No.182 (Sl.No.6) was added to the rundown. According to the Declaration on
Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up, every Member State
of the ILO is relied upon to offer impact to the standards contained in the Core
Conventions of the ILO, independent of whether the Core Conventions have been
approved by them.
Under the revealing technique of the ILO, point by point
reports are expected from the part States that have confirmed the need
Conventions and the Core Conventions like clockwork. Under the Follow-up to the
ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, a report is to be
made by every Member State each year on those Core Conventions that it has not
India on ratified conventions
India has been a strong supporter of equality. Article 16 of the Indian
Constitution provides equal opportunity in the matters of public employment as a
fundamental right. Further, Article 39, which is a part of directive
principles of state policy reads “The The state shall, in particular, direct its
policy towards securing-……..(d) that there is equal pay for equal work for both
men and women;…”
Indian legislatures have now and then attempted to enforce substantive equality
at the workplace. Examples of such attempts could be laws regarding sexual
harassment of woman at workplace, SC, and ST Prevention of atrocities,
etc. Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 and Equal Remuneration Rules,
1976 provide for penalties in the case, the remuneration of men and women
placed at the same level is not equal. There have many more provisions, which
move towards equal remuneration as an accepted principle.
The Supreme Court of India in M/s. Mackinnon Mackenzie & Co. Ltd. v. Audrey
D’costa and another substantiated on the principle that equal remuneration
has to be considered by the company and no discrimination can exist based on
Similarly, India has also enacted strongly on conventions accepted on bonded
With respect to conventions regarding bonded labor, various legislation
enactments like Bonded Labor System Abolition Act of 1976 and rules have been
adopted by India. India has adopted five legislations, which directly deal
with contract labor. It was held by the Supreme Court in Neeraja Chaudhary
v. State of M.P
, that bonded labor legislation does not only require the
abolition of the activity but also, rehabilitation of the bonded laborers and
failure on the state’s part to try rehabilitating them would be a violation of
Article 21 and Article 23 of Indian Constitution. A similar decision was also
given in the Public Union of civil Liberties v. State of Tamil Nadu and
Ors , where the Supreme Court issued directions to all states to make proper
arrangements for the rehabilitation of bonded laborers.
Therefore, it is clear that India lawmakers and adjudicators are acting
following the ratified conventions and are implementing them without fail.
India on Non-Ratified Conventions
It is an accepted norm that merely because a convention is not ratified does not
mean it will not be followed. In India, Courts on various occasions have relied
on International Convention to formulate law when local laws are not sufficient
to meet the ends of justice.  Paragraph 2 of the ‘ILO Declaration on
Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up’  reads:
“2. Declares that all Members, even if they have not ratified the Conventions in
the question, have an obligation arising from the very fact of membership in the
Organization to respect, to promote, and to realize, in good faith and in
accordance with the Constitution, the principles concerning the fundamental
rights which are the subject of those Conventions, namely:
- freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to
- the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor;
- the effective abolition of child labor; and
- the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and
India has not ratified two of the rights under the convention i.e. Freedom of
Association and Abolition of Child labor. However, India does have laws, which
concern the same subjects. The right to form an association or union is a
fundamental right guaranteed by Article 19(1)(c) of the Indian
Constitution. Various other statutes including the Industrial Dispute Act
and Trade Union Act provide for, and protect, the right to form associations for
workers and employers. However, this freedom has not been absolute. This
would be better understood in the next section.
Even for the subject of child labor corresponding laws exist in India. Article
24 of the Indian Constitution prohibits the employment of any child below the
age of 14 in any hazardous employment.Child Labor (Prohibition and
Regulation) Act 1986 solidifies this constitutional right into law and specifies
a schedule in which children could not be employed.
However, this raises an
issue of contention that if India was willing to make corresponding laws, then
what are the reasons for which India has not ratified the conventions on these
two issues. This could only become clear if we can analyze where is the
difference between Indian law and International Conventions, for which India
refused to ratify the conventions.
ILO India has also been working on:
Current areas of work The ILO’s work in India is carried out within the
framework of the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) objective of India’s DWCP
for 2018 to 2022 is to “create a more decent future of work through better
quality jobs, and ensure the transition to formal employment and environment
sustainability” and to support India’s march towards “Leaving no one behind and
reach the furthest behind first” as articulated in the 2030 UN Agenda.
next five years, ILO India will be focusing on - boosting employment
opportunities for women in rural areas and youth, protecting migrant workers,
promoting employment in sectors that address environmental and climate change,
and formalizing India’s large informal economy.
- Preventing unacceptable forms of work such as bonded labor, labor
trafficking, and ensuring the rights and protection of domestic workers.
- Promoting gender equality at the workplace, preventing sexual
harassment, gender-based violence and wage discrimination, and implementing ILO Conventions
and national lawson equal remuneration and employment.
- Conducting evidence-based policy research on areas of national
importance including mapping trends in India relating to the future of work.
- Introducing tools to integrate employment goals in national policies and
programs, and promoting Decent Work elements in select governmental
- Supporting the creation of a national Social Protection Floor through
advisory services, and identifying challenges in the implementation of
select government schemes.
- Strengthening tripartite institutions’ ability to carry out social
dialogue at both national and state levels and promoting capacities of
employers’ and workers’ organizations to provide better services to their
members and to influence labor policy formulation.
- Ratifying and applying international labor standards, providing
technical advisory services, policy support, training, research through ILO’s training
partnerships (ITC-Turin), facilitating and strengthening social dialogue.
In the course of the last 80-odd years, global work measures have become the
bedrock on which the national laws and arrangements on social and work matters
were based. During the previous decade, they have become instruments for
potential linkage with the universal exchange. India, being an originator
individual from the ILO, has relentlessly bolstered the ILO and the universal
measures. Its record of approval of shows isn't a sufficient impression of its
withstanding pledge to the advancement of work guidelines.
Global work principles have brought about setting up the standard of equivalent
compensation in India to an enormous degree yet endeavors are required for
receiving an unmistakable equivalent compensation approach. An Employees State
Insurance component has additionally been set up for giving security to
laborers, which is, obviously, required to be redesigned as per the ILO
Standards. Right now, the endeavor has been made to have an examination of the
authorization of ILO gauges in India as respects aggregate bartering, limitation
on constrained work, equivalent compensation prerequisites, and ESI system.
- International labor origination, who we are <https://in.one.un.org/who-we-are/ilo-india/>
- World Bank, World Development Indicators (May 2017)
- IMF World Economic Outlook October 2017,
- NSS 67th round, Unincorporated Non-Agricultural Enterprises (Excluding
Construction), 2015-16; Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
- International labor the organization, about the office <https://www.ilo.org/newdelhi/aboutus/WCMS_166809/lang--en/index.htm>
- C.S. Venkata Ratnam, Shri Ram Centre for Industrial Relations and Human
Resources, JSTOR, (Last accessed 11-04-2020)
- Government of India, Ministry of labor and employment,<https://labour.gov.in/lcandilasdivision/india-ilo>
- Constitution of India, 1949 Article 16
- Constitution of India, 1949 Article 39(d)
- India Equality of Opportunity and treatment < http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.details?p_lang=en&p_country=IND&p_classification=05&p_origin=COUNTRY&p_sortby=SORTBY_COUNTRY> (last
- Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, < http://pblabour.gov.in/pdf/acts_rules/equal_remuneration_act_1976.pdf> (last
- Equal Remuneration Rules, 1976 <http://pblabour.gov.in/pdf/acts_rules/equal_remuneration_punjab_rules_1976.pdf> (last
- Central Advisory Committee on Equal Remuneration Rules, 1999 <http://www.delhi.gov.in/wps/wcm/connect/doit_labour/Labour/Home/Acts+Implemented/Details+of+the+Acts+Implemented/The+Equal+Remuneration+Act,+1976/CENTRAL+ADVISORY+COMMITTEE+ON+EQUAL+REMUNERATION+RULES,+1991> (last
- AIR 1987 SC 1281
- India Elimination of forced Labor, < http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.details?p_lang=en&p_country=IND&p_classification=03&p_origin=COUNTRY&p_sortby=SORTBY_COUNTRY> (last
- AIR 1984 SC 1099
- (2004) 12 SCC 381
- Vishaka and Ors. v. State of Rajasthan and Ors., AIR 1997 SC 3011; See
also Gaurav Jain v. Union of India and Ors., AIR 1997 SC 3201
- ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its
Follow-up: Adopted by the International Labour Conference at its
Eighty-sixth Session, Geneva, 18 June 1998 (Annex revised 15 June
2010), <http://www.ilo.org/declaration/thedeclaration/textdeclaration/lang–en/index.htm> (last
- Constitution of India, 1949 Article 19(1) All citizens shall have the
- to freedom of speech and expression;
- to assemble peaceably and without arms;
- to form associations or unions;
- to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade, or
- India Freedom of Association, Collective Bargaining and Industrial
relations, <http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.details?p_lang=en&p_country=IND&p_classification=02&p_origin=COUNTRY&p_sortby=SORTBY_COUNTRY> (last
- No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in
any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment. Provided
that nothing in this sub-clause shall authorize the detention of any person
beyond the maximum period prescribed by any law made by Parliament under
sub-clause (b) of clause (7); or such person is detained following the
provisions of any law made by Parliament under sub-clauses (a) and (b) of
- International Labor Organization <https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/---sro-new_delhi/documents/publication/wcms_673934.pdf>