This chapter will enable students to:
- Explain the objectives of the ILO and the guiding principles adopted by it
- Describe the organizational structure of the ILO and the composition of its main organs
- Distinguish between Conventions and Recommendations of the ILO and their role in establishing international standards of labour
- Describe the major activities of the ILO
- Explain the influence of the ILO on Indian labour legislation
- Understand the problems associated with adoption and ratification of Conventions
Establishment of the International Labour Organization—The Background
The International Labour Organization (ILO), one of the principal international organizations established under the Treaty of Versailles, was created in 1919. However, the idea of regulating conditions of labour by an international treaty had progressively influenced the minds of many persons even earlier. Soon after the Napoleanic Wars, Robert Owen emphasized, at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, the desirability of international regulation of labour in ensuring peace. In 1839, the French Economist Adolphe Blanqui observed that the primary purpose of treaties, instead of being formed to kill men, ought to preserve men’s life and make them happier. In 1847, Daniel Legrand, a manufacturer, made an appeal to the governments of France, England, Prussia and Switzerland for the enactment of international legislation for the protection of the working class. The ideas of these pioneers influenced others and there was a widespread realization of the importance of international regulation of conditions of labour.
It was as a result of these early deliberations that the first international conference was convened by the German Government in 1890. Though the conference did not produce concrete results, it exerted a profound moral influence. The endeavour made at this conference and at the International Labour Congresses of Zurich and Brussels held in 1897, fruitfully resulted in the establishment of the International Association for Labour Legislation. The newly created international agency made efforts to regulate conditions of labour but its progress was slow till 1905. Two labour conferences were held at Berne in 1905 and 1906, and it was in these conferences that, for the first time, two international Conventions were drawn up—the first prohibited night work of women, while the second forbade the use of white phosphorous in the manufacture of matches.
The outbreak of the First World War brought into light the existence of many important labour problems and it was realized that these could be solved only through the regulation by a permanent and active international agency. The trade unions, which till then had been un-cooperative to the International Association for Labour Legislation, also changed their attitude. In 1916, the General Federation of Trade Unions at its Leeds Conference discussed several labour problems common to many countries and Recommended the appointment of an international Commission for the purpose of supervising and executing labour agreements. It also suggested the establishment of an International Labour Office for gathering materials concerning labour legislation. Public opinion was strongly in favour of the establishment of such an agency. On 31 January 1919, the Paris Peace Conference appointed a labour Commission which proposed the establishment of the International Labour Organization and drafted its constitution. The Commission was composed of representatives from nine countries, namely, Belgium, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, Japan, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States, under the chairmanship of Samuel Gompers, President of American Federation of Labour. On 28 June 1919, the high contracting parties agreed to establish the ILO as an organ of the League of Nations.
The ILO was established in 1919 under Part XIII of the Treaty of Versailles as an organ of the League of Nations. Although the League of Nations could not survive the holocaust of the Second World War, the ILO continued to maintain its existence. In 1946, when the United Nations came into existence to replace the defunct League of Nations, the ILO entered into relationship with the UN and became one of its specialized agencies. The headquarters of the ILO are in Geneva.
PREAMBLE TO THE CONSTITUTION
The Preamble to the Constitution of the ILO contains the basic purposes for the attainment of which the organization has been established. The preamble is reproduced below.
‘Whereas universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice;
And whereas conditions of labour exist involving such injustice, hardship and privation to large number of people as to produce unrest so great that the peace and harmony of the world are imperilled; and an improvement of those conditions is urgently required; as, for example, by the regulation of hours of work, including the establishment of a maximum working day and week, the regulation of the labour supply, the prevention of unemployment, the provision of an adequate living wage, the protection of the worker against sickness, disease and injury arising out of his employment, the protection of children, young persons and women, provision for old age and injury, protection of the interests of workers when employed in countries other than their own, recognition of the principle of equal remuneration for work of equal value, recognition of the principle of freedom of association, the organization of vocational and technical education and other measures;
Whereas also the failure of any nation to adopt humane conditions of labour is an obstacle in the way of other nations which desire to improve the conditions in their own countries: the High Contracting Parties, moved by sentiments of justice and humanity as well as by the desire to secure the permanent peace of the world, and with a view to attaining objectives set forth in this Preamble, agree to the … Constitution of the International labour Organization’.
FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES AND THE PHILADELPHIA CHARTER
The ILO set forth a few fundamental principles at the time of its inception. These principles are embodied in the form of Charter of Freedom of Labour, the most outstanding among which are the following:
- Labour is not a commodity
- Freedom of expression and of association are essential to sustained progress
- Poverty anywhere constitutes danger to prosperity everywhere
- The war against want requires to be carried on with unrelenting vigour within each nation by continuance and concerted international effort in which the representatives of workers and employers, enjoying equal status with those of the governments, join with them in free discussion and democratic decision with a view to the promotion of common welfare.
The General Conference of the ILO at its 26th session held in Philadelphia in 1944, reaffirmed these principles and adopted a declaration concerning the aims and purposes of the organization and principles which were to inspire the policy of its members. The declaration popularly known as the Philadelphia Charter is reproduced in Box 32.1.
THE PHILADELPHIA CHARTER
‘Believing that experience has fully demonstrated the truth of the statement in the Constitution of the International Labour Organization that lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice, the Conference affirms that:
All human beings, irrespective of race, creed or sex, have the right to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity.
The attainment of the conditions in which this shall be possible must constitute the central aim of national and international policy.
All national and international policies and measures, in particular, those of an economic and financial character, should be judged in this light and accepted only in so far as they may be held to promote and not hinder the achievement of this fundamental objective.
It is a responsibility of the International Labour Organization to examine and consider all international economic and financial policies.
In discharging the task entrusted to it the International Labour Organization having considered all relevant economic and financial factors, may include in its decisions and Recommendations any provisions which it considers appropriate’.
The conference recognizes the solemn obligation of the International Labour Organization to further among the nations of the world programmes which would achieve:
Full employment and the raising of the standards of living.
The employment of workers in the occupations in which they can have the satisfaction of giving the fullest measure of their skill and attainments and make their greatest contribution to the common well-being.
The provision, as a means to the attainment of this end and under adequate guarantees for all concerned, of facilities for training and the transfer of labour, including migration for employment and settlement.
Policies in regard to wages and earnings, hours and other conditions of work calculated to ensure a just share of the fruits of progress to all, and a minimum living wage to all employed and in need of such protection.
The effective recognition of the right of collective bargaining, the cooperation of management and labour in the continuous improvement of productive efficiency, and the collaboration of workers and employers in the preparation and application of social and economic measures.
The extension of social security measures to provide a basic income to all in need of such protection and comprehensive medical care.
Adequate protection for the life and health of workers in all occupations.
Provision for child welfare and maternity protection.
The provision of adequate nutrition, housing and facilities for recreation and culture.
The assurance of equality of educational and vocational opportunity.
The constitution of the ILO provides that its membership is open to the states which were its members on 1 November 1945 and such other states which are either original members of the United Nations or are admitted to the membership of the United Nations by a decision of the General Assembly in accordance with the provisions of the charter. The general conference of the ILO may also admit members to the Organization by a vote concurred in by two-thirds of the delegates attending the session, including two-thirds of the government delegates present and voting. The new members are required to communicate to the Director General of the International Labour Office their formal acceptance of the obligations of the constitution of the organization. A member of the ILO can withdraw from the organization only after giving notice of its intention to do so to the Director General of the International Labour Office. ‘Such notice shall take two years after the date of its reception by the Director General, subject to the Member having at that time fulfilled all financial obligations arising out of its membership’.1 The total number of member states of ILO is presently 182.
The International Labour Organization operates through three main organs. These are: (i) the International Labour Conference of national tripartite delegations which meets annually, (ii) the Governing Body—a tripartite executive council, and (iii) the International Labour Office—permanent secretariat.
International Labour Conference
The International Labour Conference is composed of four delegates nominated by each of the Member states, of whom two are government delegates and one each representing employers, and workers of the member state. Non-government delegates are nominated in agreement with the most representative organizations of employers and work-people, as the case may be. Each delegate may be accompanied by advisers (also nominated by the government concerned) who are not to exceed two in number for each item on the agenda of the meeting. When questions specially affecting women are to be considered, at least one of the advisers is to be a woman. Advisers can speak only on a request made by the delegate whom they accompany and by the special authorization of the President of the Conference, but are not allowed to vote. A delegate may authorize one of his advisers to Act as his deputy and in this case, the adviser is allowed to speak and vote. Every delegate is entitled to vote individually on all matters which are taken into consideration.
In addition to the regular delegates and advisers, the conference may be attended by representatives of non-governmental international organizations with which the ILO has entered into consultative relationship, such as the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the World Federation of Trade Unions and the International Federation of Christian Trade Unions.
The International Labour Conference, which is the supreme body of the organization, directs and supervises the work of the Governing Body and the International Labour Office. It also elects the members the governing body and functions as a world parliament for labour and social questions. One of the most important tasks which the International Labour Conference has undertaken is to create worldwide uniform standards of labour in the form of Conventions and Recommendations. The conference regulates its own procedure and may appoint committees to consider and report on any matter. It may exercise such powers and discharge such duties which it considers desirable for proper functioning of the organization.
Originally, the governing body consisted of 24 persons including 12 government representatives of 12 member states, 6 representing employers and 6 workers. Later, the proportion of government, employers’ and workers’ representatives was raised to 16:8:8 and subsequently to 40:10:10. At present, it is composed of 56 members, 28 representing government, 14 representing employers and 14 representing workers. Of the 28 government seats, 10 are permanently allotted to the 10 states of chief industrial importance. The 10 permanent members are now Brazil, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany. Except for the first 2 years of the establishment of ILO, India has been occupying a permanent seat on the governing body. The representatives of the employers and workers are elected, respectively, by the employers’ and workers’ delegates to IL Conference. At least two representatives each of the employers and workers are to be from non-European states.
The period of office of the governing body is 3 years. In case the elections of the governing body do not take place on the expiry of this period, it is to remain in office until such elections are held. The method of filling vacancies and of appointing substitutes and other similar questions are decided by the governing body, subject to the approval of the conference. The governing body is required to elect from its members, a chairman and two vice–chairmen so as to ensure representations of government, employers and workers, each. The procedure and the time of meetings are regulated by the governing body itself, but a special meeting can be convened only on a written request made by at least 16 representatives of the governing body.
The governing body, functioning under the general direction of the International Labour Conference, appoints the director general of the International Labour Office, supervises its functioning, prepares the agenda to be placed before IL Conference and discharges such other duties as are assigned to it by the conference.
International Labour Office
The International Labour Office Acts as a secretariat, a world information centre and a publishing house. The administrative head of the International Labour Office is its director general. The director general, subject to the instructions of the governing body, is ‘responsible for the efficient conduct of the International Labour Office and for such other duties which may be assigned to him’.2 He or his deputy is required to attend all meetings of the governing body. The staffs of the IL Office are appointed by the director general under regulations approved by the governing body. A far as possible, the staff are to be appointed from different nations and a certain percentage of them is to consist of women.
The functions of the International Labour Office include ‘the collection and distribution of information on all subjects relating to the international adjustment of the conditions of industrial life and labour, and particularly, the examination of subjects which it is proposed to bring before the Conference with a view to the conclusion of international Conventions, and the conduct of each special investigations as may be ordered by the Conference or the Governing Body’.3
Subject to the directions of the governing body, the IL Office is required to:
- Prepare documents on the various items of the agenda for the meeting of the Conference.
- Accord to governments, at their request, all appropriate assistance within its power in connection with the framing of laws and regulations on the basis of the decisions of the Conference, and the improvement of administrative practices and systems of inspection.
- Edit and issue publications dealing with problems of industry and unemployment of international interest.
- Carry out the duties required of it in connection with the effective observance of Conventions.
Generally, the International Labour Office exercises such powers and discharges such duties as are assigned to it by the Conference or the Governing Body.
One of the principal functions of the International Labour Organization is to secure international minimum social and labour standards. These standards are embodied in resolutions in the form of Conventions and Recommendations, adopted by the International Labour Conference by at least two-thirds of the delegates present at the Conference and voting. The Conference decides whether these resolutions will take the form of a Convention or a Recommendation. Thus, Conventions or Recommendations are instruments for creating and establishing international minimum social and labour standards. These are often referred to as International Labour Code.
There is a basic difference in the nature of obligations created by Conventions, on the one hand, and Recommendations, on the other. A Convention imposes certain obligations. The member state is under an obligation under the constitution of ILO to bring, within a period of 1 year at the most, or within 18 months in exceptional cases, from the closing of the session of the Conference, a Convention before the authority within whose competence the matter lies, for ratification. If so ratified, the Convention acquires a binding character on the member state. Although a member is free to ratify or not to ratify a Convention, once it has been ratified by the appropriate authority of the member state concerned, it becomes obligatory on the part of the member state to implement the Convention by legislative or other appropriate measures and to communicate the formal ratification to the director general. Further, after ratification, a member state has to implement the Convention in toto, without varying the provisions of the Convention in any respect, except when and where the Convention itself makes provisions for variations. In case a member state does not ratify a Convention, it is under the obligation to report periodically the position of law and practice in regard to the matters dealt within the Convention, indicating the difficulties that prevent or delay the ratification of such a Convention. However, a Convention, even if ratified by a member state, does not automatically become binding unless it has secured a minimum number of ratifications. The number of ratifications required to bring a Convention into force is fixed in each case by the terms of the Convention; any two ratifications being sufficient in the great majority of cases.
A Recommendation, on the other hand, is not an obligation creating instrument. It is intended to serve as a guide to the member states in respect of the minimum labour standards, concerning the subject matter of the Recommendation. A member state, of course, has to bring the Recommendation to the notice of the appropriate authority within 1 year at the most or 18 months under exceptional conditions, after the closing of the session of Conference. Apart from bringing the Recommendation before the competent authority, no further obligation rests upon the member states except that they have to report as and when requested by the governing body, showing the extent to which effect has been given or is proposed to be given to the provisions of the Recommendation. Thus, a member state is free to modify the provision of the Recommendation for the purpose of legislation or implementation, which is not the case with a Convention.
While framing Conventions and Recommendations of general application, it is the duty of the conference to give due consideration to those countries in which climatic conditions, the imperfect development of industrial organization or other special circumstances make the industrial conditions substantially different, and to suggest modifications which it considers necessary to meet the case of such countries. The adoption of any Convention or Recommendation or the ratification of any Convention is not to be designed to affect ‘any law, award, custom or agreement which ensures more favorable conditions to the workers concerned than those provided for in the Convention or Recommendation’.4
Generally speaking, Recommendations lay down higher labour standards than what can possibly be embodied in Conventions. The Conference may feel that a particular proposal is not as yet ripe for being embodied in an obligation-creating Convention because of the reluctance of the member states and, therefore, it might satisfy itself by a Recommendation only. Gradually, as practices and standards in the member countries improve and the standards laid down in a Recommendation become acceptable, it might be converted into a Convention at a later date. Similarly, as standards improve, Conventions are revised and fresh Conventions with higher labour standards are adopted. However, too much should not be read into this distinction between Conventions and Recommendations on the basis of their obligation-creating capacities. The status of a Convention in relation to a member state in which it is not enforced is analogous to that of a Recommendation, and it serves as a guide in formulating its labour and social policy in the same way as a Recommendation does. An unratified Convention is as good as a Recommendation.
MAJOR ACTIVITIES OF ILO
The ILO has made relentless efforts to achieve the objectives set forth in the constitution. The major activities of ILO relate to improvement of conditions of work and life, development of human resources and social institutions, and research and planning. The principal aim behind the improvement of conditions of work and life is ‘to promote national, regional and international action designed to adjust these conditions to the requirements of social progress at all stages of economic development, bearing in mind the interdependence of social progress and economic growth’.5 Programmes in the field of human resources are intended ‘to determine principles and polices which should govern the development and utilisation of human resources, and to encourage their application through technical programmes in the fields of employment policy and employment promotion, vocational guidance and training, basic and advanced management training, manpower planning and organization, and classification of occupations’.6 The main purpose behind the development of social institutions is ‘to identify and advance solutions to the problems connected with the framing and implementation of policies of economic and social development, such as the role of workers and employers’ organizations, cooperatives, rural organizations, and different forms of enterprise, and the improvement of labour relations at various levels—undertaking, industry, regional and national’.7
The most outstanding technique running common to the various activities of ILO is the adoption of international standards. Although Conventions and Recommendations are the main instruments for setting international standards, recourse to other procedures has also been increasingly made. These include (i) resolutions and conclusions adopted by expert committees and ad hoc conferences; (ii) resolutions and reports adopted by bodies representing the views and interests of particular industries, sectors of economy or types of labour; (iii) resolutions and reports of regional conferences and regional technical meetings; (iv) resolutions of autonomous bodies dealing with social security questions and (v) model codes on various matters. ‘The standards of policy expressed in these various forums are not of course upon the same footing as the Conventions and Recommendations adopted by the International Labour Conference; the obligations to submit to national competent authorities and to report as requested by the Governing Body are not applicable to them; they have not the same measure of authority and are essentially more experimental in character; but, subject to these reservations, they supplement in many respects the provisions of Conventions and Recommendations’.8
Other means adopted by ILO in respect of its various activities comprise extending technical assistance including making available the services of experts, conducting training courses, seminars and symposia, research and information gathering, and publications.
A description of the major activities of ILO are discussed in the following sections.
Creation of International Standards of Labour
An important activity of ILO is the creation of international standards of labour on various labour and social matters. This is done primarily by the adoption of Conventions and Recommendations, the features of which, have already been explained earlier in the chapter. These Conventions and Recommendations have covered a wide variety of areas such as basic human rights, employment, conditions of work, industrial relations, social security, employment of children and women, labour administration, social policy and matters affecting special categories of workers. The details relating to them have been discussed under a separate section later in the chapter. These Conventions and Recommendations have contributed much towards establishment of uniformity in labour standards on a global basis and have influenced labour legislation and collective bargaining in member countries.
Keeping in view the mandate under the Philadelphia Declaration, ILO assists countries in the pursuit of higher levels of productive employment. The efforts of ILO in this regard comprise exploring the short- and long-term employment effects of alternative development strategies; aiding the functioning of labour markets through appropriate policies and measures; addressing the employment, income and organizational requirements of unprotected and unorganized labour who from the majority of workforce in the developing countries; assisting in managing the transition from State-run to market-oriented economics; responding to the increased migratory pressure resulting from demographic changes, structural adjustment and imbalances in world development; encouraging productivity in formal and informal sectors; and protecting especially vulnerable groups and the elimination of discrimination against specific groups.
Collection and Distribution of Information and Publication
The International Labour Office has been a world repository of information on labour and social questions and a publishing house. It collects information on a global basis on a wide variety of social and labour subjects and makes them available to the member countries. Statistics collected by the ILO are universally regarded as an authoritative source of statistical information. Research accompanies and reinforces the activities relating to collection of information. The ILO operates the International Labour Information Services on social and labour questions which is drawn extensively on its rich library containing more than 10 lakh titles. The library of ILO publishes LABORDOC, a database of major literature on ILO interests, and provides information, documents, and so on to ILO’s staff and a vast range of ILO-related institutions, using a variety of modern information technologies.
The ILO brings out a number of authentic publications on major international labour and social issues, standard reference works, technical guides on specialized topics, codes of practice on occupational safety and health, workers’ education materials, and textbooks on management. The important publications of the organization are shown in Box 32.2.
IMPORTANT PUBLICATIONS OF THE ILO
- International Labour Review (quarterly journal);
- Official Bulletin;
- Labour Law Documents;
- Conditions of Work Digest;
- Labour Education;
- Year Book of Labour Statistics and Bulletin of Labour Statistics;
- International Labour Documentation; and
- World of Work, Magazine of ILO. The Encylopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety, International Labour Conventions and Recommendations and Modular Programme for Supervisory Development are a few notable among numerous titles published by ILO.
Research and Studies
Numerous researches and studies relating to specific labour and social issues have been completed under the auspices of the ILO and their results published. Some of the more notable areas covered have been industrial relations, social security, working conditions, industrial safety and health and manpower development.
In this field, the role of the International Institute of Labour Studies founded in 1960 and functioning under the auspices of ILO has increasingly become prominent. The institute aims at raising awareness of labour-related problems and of methods appropriate for their solution. The core theme of the institute’s work is to examine the possible contribution of labour institutions to economic development and social progress. Labour or social institutions include ‘formal organizations such as trade unions and employers’ organizations, as well as the rules governing their interactions, including industrial relations systems, their regulations and laws, and the informal social mechanisms regulating labour markets’.9
The ILO has attributed great importance to training. The Human Resources Development Convention (No. 142), 1975 requires the ratifying country to adopt and develop policies and programmes in collaboration with employers’ and workers’ organizations, and to assist all persons on an equal footing to develop and utilize their vocational proficiency in their own interest and according to their aspirations. Recommendation (No. 150) adopted the same year gives details of the principles of training. It deals with vocational guidance and training as well as training in management functions and self-employment, and programmes intended for specific regions and specific categories of target groups. Training activities of the ILO are essentially based on the guidelines contained in the Recommendation.
The principal role of the ILO in the field of training is that of an adviser. It makes available to the governments, social partners and public and private trainers the services of its experts, training designs and aids in a variety of training programmes such as vocational training, apprenticeship training, and those for the unemployed, women and special target groups.
The ILO has also established the International Training Centre at Turin in Italy. The centre is committed to the development of human resources based on the principle that ‘such an investment in human capacity is the most efficient means of social advancement and assuring the future of developing countries or those in transition’.10 The subjects determined jointly by the ILO and the centre include management training, workers’ education, industrial relations, programmes for women, health and safety, social security and so on. ‘Within the United Nations system, the Turin Centre is now recognized as an effective means of improving the coordination between the different actors involved in technical cooperation’.11
Improvement of Working Conditions and Working Environment
For improving working conditions and environment at work, the ILO adopts in a coordinated manner various means of action including international standards of labour, studies and research, collection and diffusing of information and technical cooperation. An appreciable number of Conventions and Recommendations aim at achieving the objective. These have been discussed in detail later in the chapter. Apart from persuading the member countries to apply these standards, the ILO makes available consultancy services to countries making request, and develops training activities to facilitate the actions of all involved.
Development of Social Institutions
The ILOs programmes in this sphere relate to development of workers’ and employees’ organizations, improvement in labour legislation and industrial relations, workers’ education, labour administration, cooperatives and rural institutions.
The Bureau for Workers’ Activities coordinate all activities of the ILO relating to workers’ organizations and workers’ education. The workers’ relations branch of the bureau maintains, strengthens and develops relations between the ILO and workers’ organizations at the international, sectorial, regional and national levels. The objective of workers’ education programme is to strengthen workers’ organizations through workers’ education. It aims at bringing to trade unions the knowledge required ‘to increase the number of their affiliates, to expand their activities and improve their negotiating abilities, and to encourage their participation in decision-making and their ability to defend and promote the interests of their members’.12 In order to achieve these objectives, the ILO organizes seminars and workshops for trade unionists in developing countries, and those in transition. It publishes manuals, guidelines and educational materials on relevant subjects and makes these available to workers’ organizations. The advisory services and training programmes in this area are also specially designed for workers’ organizations in the rural sector. Specific activities are carried out to encourage the participation in union activities of such special groups as women, young and indigenous workers. Other important activities include fellowships and study grants.
The International Training Centre also organizes special courses for members of workers’ organizations from different parts of the world.
The Bureau of Employers’ Activities established in the headquarter of the organization, combines the functions of establishing relations with employers’ organizations and provides technical cooperation to them, particularly in developing countries. The technical cooperation programme is intended to promote the creation of strong and independent employers’ organizations in order that they may effectively advocate the interests of their members and participate fully in the economic and social development of their countries. The ILO also organizes seminars and training courses at various levels for the staff of employers’ organizations with particular emphasis on their role in such areas as industrial relations, creation of small enterprises, training in management, health and safety and environment.
The ILO assists countries in formulating and developing their labour policies and labour administration and to improve labour inspection and employment services. The role of the ILO in this regard has been discussed in some detail in Chapter 31. It also meets requests from governments for advice or technical assistance in drafting labour laws, undertaking their reviews and adapting laws consistent with its established principles.
The ILO has set up Department for Government and Labour Law and Administration (GLLAD) to deal inter alia with the questions involved in labour administration. The functions of the department include (i) strengthening ministries and related agencies responsible for labour policy and administration; (ii) promoting labour laws and civil service regulation in conformity with the standards and principles of the ILO and (iii) assisting public sector administrators in establishing effective and constructive relations with their staff representatives. The organization has also set up a database on labour administration known as ATLAS (for details, see Chapter 31).
The ILO supports and promotes cooperatives as a means of alleviating poverty, creating employment and generating income. In its programme relating to cooperatives, it encourages voluntary membership, autonomous decision-making, democratic control, and equitable distribution of benefits and risks. The organization collaborates with national cooperative movements, non-governmental organizations, governments, and organizations of employers and workers in formulating and promoting these objectives. It provides advisory and information services in regard to legislation concerning cooperatives and human resource development, and extends technical cooperation.
During more recent years, the development of rural institutions has received special attention of the ILO. Many activities of the organization such as establishment of international standards of labour, employment promotion, training and technical cooperation have given particular attention to the development of rural institutions and informal sectors.
Some other activities of the ILO relate to such areas as promotion of universal respect for the observance of human rights and rights at work; undertaking regional programmes; establishment of Industrial Committees; undertaking special programmes for specially handicapped groups of workers such as children, women, migrants and disabled; and establishing collaboration with other international organizations having a bearing on its policies and programmes.
INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS OF LABOUR AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON INDIAN LABOUR LEGISLATION
International Standards of Labour
From its very inception, the ILO has undertaken the task of creating international minimum standards of labour in the form of Conventions and Recommendations which constitute the International Labour Code. The nature of these instruments has been explained earlier in the chapter. They have covered a wide range of subjects including wages, hours of work, annual holidays with pay, minimum age of employment, medical examination, maternity protection, industrial health, safety and welfare, social security, freedom of association, right to organize and bargain collectively, employment conditions of seamen and unemployment. As on 31 March 2010, the ILO had adopted 188 Conventions and 199 Recommendations. The details of the Conventions and Recommendations have been discussed below under suitable heads.
- Conditions of work, including hours of work, weekly rest, holidays with pay and wages
- Employment of children and young persons
- Employment of women
- Industrial health, safety and welfare
- Social security
- Industrial relations
- Employment and unemployment
- Other special categories.
CONDITIONS OF WORK
The International Labour Organization has devoted continued attention to the conditions of work of labour at workplaces including hours of work, weekly rest, holidays with pay, principles and methods of wage regulation, and labour administration and inspection. A large number of Conventions and Recommendations covering conditions of work of labour have been adopted by the International Labour Conference.
Hours of Work
The Hours of Work (Industry) Convention (No. 1) adopted in the first session of the International Labour Conference in 1919 relates to hours of work in industry. The Convention limits the hours of work in industrial undertakings to 8 in the day and 48 in the week. It provides certain exceptions in respect of persons holding positions of supervision or management, and those employed in confidential capacity. The limit of hours of work may be exceeded in certain cases (e.g. in case of accident or in case of urgent work to be done to machinery or plant or in continuous processes, subject to certain conditions). The Convention contains special provisions for countries where the 48 hours work might be inapplicable. India ratified the Convention in 1921 on getting a special relaxation.
The, Hours of Work (Coal Mines) Convention (No. 31), 1931, subsequently revised by Hours of Work (Coal Mines) (Revised) Convention (No. 64), 1935, regulates hours of work in coal mines. The time spent in the mine by the workers employed in underground and hard coal mines is not to exceed 7 and 3/4 hours in a day. However, in case of underground lignite mines the time spent in the mine may be prolonged under certain conditions by a collective break of not more than 30 minutes. Hours of work in open hard or lignite mines are not to exceed 8 in the day or 48 in the week.
The Hours of Work and Rest Periods (Road Transport) Convention (No. 67), 1939, prescribes hours of work of professional drivers of road transport vehicles to 8 in a day and 48 in a week. Time spent in work done during running time of the vehicle, time spent in subsidiary work, periods of mere attendance and breaks of rest and interruptions of work are to be included in calculating hours of work. The Hours of Work and Rest Periods (Road Transport) Con. (No. 153) with improved standards was adopted in 1979. Night Work (Road Transport) (Recommendation) (No. 64), Methods of Regulating Hours (Road Transport) Rec. (No. 65), and Rest Periods (Private Chauffeurs) Rec. (No. 66), all adopted in 1939, deal with night work, methods of regulating hours of work, and rest periods, respectively of private chauffeurs.
The Hours of Work (Commerce and Offices) Convention (No. 30), 1930 prescribes the maximum of 8 hours in a day and 48 in a week for workers employed in commerce and commercial and trading establishments, administrative offices and mixed commercial and industrial establishments. It provides certain exceptions on prescribed conditions. The spreadover, however, is not to exceed 10 hours in any day. The Hours of Work (Theatres, etc.) Rec. (No. 37), 1930, Hours of Work (Hotels, etc.) Rec. (No. 38), 1930 and Hours of Work (Hospital, etc.) Rec. (No. 39), 1930 also concern with limiting the hours of work.
Separate Conventions and Recommendations regulate hours of work in public works (Con. 51), sheet glass works (Con. 43), glass bottle works (Con. 49), fishing industry and inland navigation (Con. 188), (Recs.7, 8, 199).
Conventions prescribing 40 hours a week were adopted in 1935. The principle of 40 hours a week was embodied in these Conventions mainly as a result of the existence of widespread unemployment at that time and it was considered desirable to reduce hours of work in all forms of employment so that workers might be enabled to share the benefit of rapid technical progress.
The Weekly Rest (Industry) Convention (No. 14), 1921 provides that ‘the entire personnel employed in any industrial undertaking is to enjoy in every period of seven days a period of rest amounting to at least 24 consecutive hours’. India ratified the Convention on 11 May 1923.
The Hours of Work (Coal Mines) Convention (Revised) (No. 46), 1935 prohibits the employment of miners on underground work in coal mines on Sundays and legal public holidays. An article of Hours of Work and Rest Periods (Road Transport) Con. (No. 67), 1939 provides weekly rest of at least 30 consecutive hours for road transport travelling staff.
Holidays with Pay
The Holidays with Pay Convention (No. 52), 1936 fixes the length of holidays at not less than 6 working days after a year’s service, and for persons under 16, the annual holidays are not to be less than 12 working days. Public and customary holidays and interruptions of work due to sickness are not to be included in the annual holidays with pay. The Convention applies to industrial and commercial establishments including newspaper undertakings, establishments for the treatment and care of the sick, infirm, destitute or mentally unfit; hotels, restaurants, boarding houses, clubs, cafes and other refreshment houses; theatres and places of public amusements; and mixed commercial and industrial establishments. The Convention was revised by the Holidays with Pay (Revised) Con. (No. 132), 1970. The Holidays with Pay (Agriculture) Con. (No. 101), 1952 lays down the principle of granting holidays with pay to agricultural workers but the authorities of each country are free to decide the length of the holidays and other particulars. Another Convention, namely, Annual Leave with Pay for Seafarers Con. (No. 146) was adopted in 1976.
The Holidays with Pay Rec. (No. 47), 1936, Holidays with Pay (Agriculture) Rec. (No. 93), 1952 and Holidays with Pay Rec. (No. 98) 1954 also concern with holidays with pay. Recommendation No. 47 defines certain points covered under the Holidays with Pay Convention (No. 52), 1936. Recommendation No. 93 lays down that the minimum length of the holidays with pay should be one working week for adults and two working weeks for persons under 16 after a period of one year’s continuous service. Recommendation No. 98, which applies to all employed persons except seafarers, agricultural workers or persons in family undertakings, prescribes minimum annual holidays with pay of two normal working weeks after one year’s employment with the same employer.
The International Labour Conference has also adopted Conventions and Recommendations dealing with the protection of wages and methods of minimum wage regulation.
The Protection of Wages Convention (No. 95), 1949 deals with the protection of wages. The Convention provides that wages payable in money must be paid regularly in legal tender directly to the worker concerned and deductions may be permitted only under conditions and to the extent prescribed by national enactments or collective agreements or arbitration awards. It also prohibits payment in the form of promissory notes, vouchers or coupons. The Protection of Wages Rec. (No. 85) which was also adopted the same year contains detailed rules in respect of deductions from wages, fixation of wage periods, maintenance of wage statements and payroll records.
The Minimum Wages Fixing Machinery Convention (No. 26), 1928, which has been ratified by India, provides for the creation of a wage-fixing machinery in certain trades. The Convention requires consultation with the representatives of the employers and workers before such a machinery is applied in a trade and it imposes an obligation on the ratifying countries to associate both the employers and workers in the operation of the machinery. The minimum wages fixed by the machinery are to be binding on employers and workers. The Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery Rec. (No. 30) was also adopted the same year. The Recommendation requires such a machinery to investigate into the conditions relevant to the trades and to consult the affected interests before fixing minimum wages. Another Convention, namely, the Minimum Wage Fixing Con. (No. 131) with improved standards was adopted in 1970.
The Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery (Agriculture) Convention (No. 99), 1951 prescribes the creation and maintenance of adequate machinery for the fixation of minimum rates of wages for workers employed in agricultural undertakings and related occupations. The Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery Rec. (No. 89), 1951 also deals with minimum wages regulation in agriculture.
Labour Administration and Inspection
Though most of the Conventions adopted by the IL Conference contain provisions of enforcement, a few Conventions and Recommendations deal exclusively with the problems of labour administration and inspection. The Labour Inspection Convention (No. 81), 1947 requires the governments to maintain a system of labour inspection for the purpose of securing the enforcement of legal provisions relating to conditions of work and the protection of workers while engaged in their work, supplying technical information and advice to workers and employers and bringing to the notice of the competent authorities, defects or abuses not covered by law. India ratified the Convention on 7 April 1949. The Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Con. (No. 129), 1969 deals with labour inspection in agriculture. The Labour Administration Con. (No. 150) was later adopted in 1978.
The Labour Inspection Recommendation (No. 20), 1923 deals with details of schemes for labour inspection. The Labour Inspection Rec. (No. 80),1946, the Labour Inspection Rec. (No. 81), 1947, and Labour Administration Rec. (No. 150), 1978 also deal with the problems of labour administration and inspection.
EMPLOYMENT OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PERSONS
The International Labour Conference has adopted a number of Conventions and Recommendations dealing exclusively with the problems of employment of children and young persons. Besides, a number of other Conventions and Recommendations relate directly or indirectly with the conditions of youth. Standards affecting conditions of employment of children and young persons relate to minimum age of employment, prohibition of employment of children and young persons in certain hazardous occupations, medical examination, night work, and preparation for employment.
Minimum Age of Employment
The Minimum Age (Industry) Convention (No. 5), 1919, the Minimum Age (Sea) Con. (No. 7), 1920, the Minimum Age (Agriculture) Con. (No. 10), 1921, the Minimum Age (Non-Industrial Employment) Con. (No. 33), 1932, and the Minimum Age (Fishermen) Con. (No. 112), 1959 provide a general minimum age of 14 years for admission to employment in the industries covered by the Conventions. Conventions Nos.5, 7, and 33 were subsequently revised, respectively by the Minimum Age (Industry) (Revised) Con. (No. 59), 1937, the Minimum Age (Sea) (Revised) Con. (No. 58), 1936, and the Minimum Age (Non-Industrial Employment) (Revised) Con. (No. 60), 1937. The revised Conventions raise the minimum age of employment to 15 years. Convention (No. 5), 1919 has been ratified by India. The Minimum Age (Trimmers and Stockers) Con. (No. 15), 1921, which has also been ratified by India, prohibits the employment of young persons under 18 years in the hazardous occupation of Trimmer and Stocker at sea. The Minimum Age (Underground Work) Con. (No. 123), 1965 regulates minimum age of employment in underground operations. India ratified the Convention in 1975. The Minimum Age Con. (No. 138), 1973 contains improved standards of minimum age of employment. Effective observance of the Convention has been emphasized under the 1998 declaration of IL Conference on Fundamental Principles and Rights at work.
The Medical Examination (Seafarers) Convention (No. 73), the Medical Examination of Young Persons (Industry) Con. (No. 77), the Medical Examination of Young Persons (Non-Industrial Occupations) Con. (No. 78), all adopted in 1946, the Medical Examination (Fishermen) Con. (No. 113), 1959 and the Medical Examination of Young Persons (Underground Work) Con. (No. 123), 1965 concern with medical examination to determine the fitness of young persons for employment. The Medical Examination of Young Persons Rec. (No. 79), 1946 suggests procedures for applying the provisions of Convention Nos. 77 and 78. The Conventions mainly provide that young persons up to 18 shall be admitted to employment only after they are declared physically fit on examination by a medical practitioner. The cost of the medical examination is to be borne by the employer.
The International Labour Conference has adopted a few Conventions and Recommendations restricting night work of children and young persons mainly with the purpose of providing them with adequate rest, reducing their fatigue and ensuring adequate time for their normal recreational and cultural activities.
The Night Work of Young Persons (Industry) Convention (No. 6), 1919 which has been ratified by India, prescribes restrictions on night work of young persons in industrial undertakings. The Convention provides that children and young persons under 18 years of age are not to be employed for work at night for a period of 11 consecutive hours including the interval between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The Convention was revised by the Night Work of Young Persons (Industry) (Revised) Con. (No. 90), 1948 which extends the period of uninterrupted rest for young persons under 18, from 11 to 12 hours. Young persons under 16 years of age are not to work between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The revised Convention (No. 90) has also been ratified by India.
The Night Work of Young Persons (Non-Industrial Occupations) Convention (No. 79), 1946 regulates night work of young persons in non-industrial occupations. The Convention provides that children under 14 years of age are not to be employed for work at night during a period of at least 14 consecutive hours. The same provision is applicable in case of children over 14 who are subject to full time compulsory school attendance. Young persons under 18 and children over 14, who are not subject to compulsory school attendance, are not to be employed at night during a period of at least 12 consecutive hours. The Night Work of Young Persons (Non-Industrial Occupations) Rec. (No. 80), 1946 lays down the details and administrative procedures to be followed in respect of the Convention.
Preparation for Employment
A number of Recommendations deal with the problem of preparation for the employment of children and young persons. Notable Recommendations are Vocational Education (Agriculture) (No. 15), 1921; Unemployment (Young Persons) (No. 45), 1935; Vocational Education (Building) (No. 56), 1937; Vocational Training (No. 57), 1939; Apprenticeship (No. 61), 1939; the Employment (Transition from War to Peace) (No. 71), 1944; and the Vocational Guidance (No. 87), 1949. The Recommendations are based on the principle that young persons should have free access to the available training courses designed to meet the needs both of young persons and the economic and social conditions of that particular countries. The training courses are to be coordinated with the activities of the authorities responsible for employment policy and education and at the same time, financial assistance has to be made available to young persons receiving training for vocation.
Apart from the Conventions and Recommendations listed above, a number of Conventions and Recommendations apply equally to young and adult workers. Mention may be made of those dealing with hours of work, weekly rest, annual holidays with pay, industrial health, safety and welfare, labour inspection and employment services.
Worst Forms of Child Labour
In 1999, the International Labour Conference adopted the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No. 182) and Recommendation (No. 190). The Convention requires the ratifying member states to take immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency. The worst forms of child labour as specified in Convention No. 182 are (a) all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery; (b) procuring or offering a child for prostitution or pornography; (c) using, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities such as trafficking; and (d) work likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children. The 1998 declaration of the IL Conference on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work lays emphasis on the provisions of Con. No. 182 on a priority basis (see also Chapter 29). Recommendation No. 190 supplements the provisions of the Convention.
EMPLOYMENT OF WOMEN
Though most of the Conventions and Recommendations adopted by the IL Conference apply equally to men and women workers, separate standards have also been created exclusively affecting women workers. The Conventions and Recommendations adopted to regulate conditions of employment exclusively of women workers deal with maternity protection, night work, employment in unhealthy processes and equal pay.
The first Convention dealing with maternity protection was the Maternity Protection Convention (No. 3), adopted in 1952. The Maternity Protection Con. (Revised) (No. 103), 1952 deals with maternity protection immediately before and after child birth. It provides that no woman worker should be required to work for at least 12 weeks at the time of her confinement and at least 6 weeks of this period should follow the birth of the child. Such a woman worker should also be entitled to receive cash and medical benefits as a matter of right by social insurance or public funds, and is not to be discharged during the period of her maternity leave. The Maternity Protection (Agriculture) Rec. (No. 12), 1921, applies the principle of the Convention to women workers employed in agriculture. The Maternity Protection Rec. (No. 95), 1952 supplements Convention No. 103, and provides that the period of maternity leave may be extended to 14 weeks in case a woman’s health makes such an extension desirable. It further provides that the amount of maternity benefit should be at par with the earnings of the woman and her seniority right should be preserved during the period of maternity leave. The breaks for nursing should be at least an hour and a half daily and the pregnant woman should not be allowed to work overtime or during night.
Maternity Protection Convention (No. 183), 2000, which revises the Maternity Protection Con. (Revised), 1952, contains improved standards relating to maternity benefit. The ratifying member state is required to take steps to ensure that pregnant or breastfeeding women are not obliged to perform work which is prejudicial to the health of the mother or the child. A woman is entitled to maternity leave for a period not less than 14 weeks which will include a period of 6 weeks’ compulsory leave after childbirth. She is also entitled to a further period of leave in the case of illness or complications arising out of pregnancy or childbirth, the duration of which will be in accordance with national law and practice. The cash benefit is not to be less than two-thirds of the woman’s previous earnings. It will be unlawful for an employer to terminate the employment of a woman during her pregnancy or absence on leave. Steps should be taken to ensure that maternity does not become a source of discrimination in employment. The breastfeeding mothers are entitled to one or more daily breaks or a daily reduction of hours of work to breastfeed her child. The ratifying member state is required to examine periodically the appropriateness of extending the period of maternity leave or increasing the amount of cash benefit. The Maternity Protection Rec. (No. 191), 2000 specifies details relating to cash and medical benefits, health protection, nursing breaks and so on.
The first Convention dealing with prohibition of employment of women during night was the Night Work (Women) Con. (No. 4), 1919. It was superseded by the Night Work (Women) (Revised) Con. (No. 41), 1934, which was revised by the Night Work (Women) (Revised) Con. (No. 89), 1948. Convention Nos. 4, 41 and 89 have been ratified by India. Convention No. 4 places restriction on the employment of women during night in any public or private industrial undertaking. The Convention defines ‘night’ to signify a period of ‘consecutive hours including the interval between 10.p.m, and 5.a.m’. A special article, relating to India, authorizes it to exclude undertakings other than factories from the provisions of the Convention. The main provisions of the Conventions were extended to women workers employed in agriculture by the Maternity Protection (Agriculture) Rec. (No. 12), 1921. Convention No. 41 excludes from its scope women who hold positions of management and are not ordinarily engaged in manual work. It also authorizes the competent authorities to substitute the interval between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. for the interval between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Convention No. 89, also in force in India, provides for a minimum rest period of at least 11 consecutive hours including an interval of at least 7 hours falling between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. The Night Work Convention (No. 171) (Protocol) was adopted in 1990.
Employment in Unhealthy Processes
The White Lead (Painting) Convention (No. 13), 1921 prohibits the use of white lead or sulphate of lead by women in industrial painting. Another Convention, namely, the Underground Work (Women) (No. 45), 1935, which has been ratified by India, forbids the employment of women in any kind of underground mining. Exceptions may be made in respect of women employed on certain non-manual or non-industrial work, for instance, managerial staff, staff of health and welfare services. Recommendation (No. 4), 1919, forbids the employment of women in a number of industrial processes involving proximity to lead and zinc.
The Equal Remuneration Convention (No. 100), 1951, which has been ratified by India, calls for equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value. The principle may be applied by national laws or regulations, legally established or a recognized machinery for fixing wages, collective agreements or by a combination of these methods. The Equal Remuneration Rec. (No. 90) suggests various procedures to be followed for ensuring a progressive introduction of the principle. Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Con. (No. 111) and Rec. (No. 111), 1958 and Workers with Family Responsibilities Con. (No. 146) and Rec. (No. 165), 1981 also concern women. Conventions No. 100 and 111 are to be taken upon a priority basis under the declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work adopted by the IL Conference in 1998.
HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELFARE
In promoting the interests of labour in the fields of health, safety and welfare, ILO has had recourse to a variety of methods, for example, international regulations, model codes, technical monographs on dangerous machinery, and assistance to governments in drafting safety regulations and so on. Conventions and Recommendations in these fields suggest general principles concerning the prevention of accidents and the protection of health of the workers and also indicate the special requirements of particular industries and processes. These Conventions and Recommendations may be discussed under separate sub-heads.
The Prevention of Industrial Accidents Rec. (No. 31), 1929; the Power-driven Machinery Rec. (No. 32), 1929; and the Labour Inspection Rec. (No. 20), 1923 deal with general problems of safety. Recommendation No. 31 provides in detail the methods of cooperation between state inspectorates, employers and workers’ organizations and other bodies in the prevention of accidents. It also prescribes the general principles to be embodied in safety legislation. Recommendation No. 32 lays down that power-driven machinery should not be installed unless it is furnished with the safety appliances required by law. Recommendation No. 20 provides that the principal function of the inspection system should be to secure the enforcement of laws and regulations relating to conditions of work and protection of workers, including matters of safety and health. Particular industries or processes in respect of which Conventions or Recommendations concerning safety have been adopted include docks, marking of weight, building construction, and coal mines. The Marking of Weight (Packages Transported by Vessels) Con. (No. 27), 1929, which has been ratified by India, requires every package of one tonne or more gross weight consigned for transport by sea or inland water to have its gross weight plainly or durably marked on the outside, before it is loaded on a ship or other vessel.
Other Conventions relating to safety are Guarding or Machinery Con. (No. 119), 1963; Maximum Weight Con. (No. 127), 1967; Occupational Safety and Health (Dock Work) Con. (No. 152), 1979; Occupational Safety and Health Con. (No. 155), 1981; Safety and Health in Construction Con. (No. 167), 1988. Prevention of Major Industrial Accidents Con. (No. 174), 1993; and Safety and Health in Mines Con. (No. 176), 1995.
A comprehensive Safety and Health in Agriculture Con. (No. 184) was adopted in 2001. It requires the ratifying member state to formulate, carry out and periodically review a coherent national policy on safety and health in agriculture. The policy should aim at preventing accidents and injury to health arising out of, linked with, or occurring in the course of, work by eliminating, minimizing or controlling hazards in the agricultural working environment. The Convention prescribes standards relating to preventive and protective measures, safety machinery and ergonomics, handling and transport of materials, management of chemicals, animal handling and protection against biological risks, agricultural installations, employment of young workers, hazardous work, temporary and seasonal workers, welfare and accommodation facilities, working time arrangement, and coverage against occupational injuries and diseases. The Safety and Health in Agriculture Rec. (No. 192), 2001, which supplements the Convention, spells out details concerning occupational safety and health surveillance, preventive and protective measures and provisions relating to special categories of workers.
Industrial Hygiene and Health
A few Conventions and Recommendations seek to protect workers against certain occupational diseases and health hazards. These include Anthrax Prevention Rec. (No. 3), Lead Poisoning Rec. (No. 4). White Phosphorus Rec. (No. 6), all adopted in 1919; White Lead (Painting) Con. (No. 13), 1921. Radiation Protection Con. (No. 115), 1960; also ratified by India, Hygiene (Commerce and Offices) Con. (No. 120), 1964. Benzene Con (No. 136) (ratified by India) and (No. 144) 1971; Occupational Cancer Con. (No. 139) and Rec. (No. 147), 1974; Asbestos Con. (No. 162) and Rec. (No. 172), 1986; Safety and Health in Construction Con. (No. 167), 1988; and Safety in the Use of Chemicals Con. (No. 170) Rec. (No. 177), 1990 and List of Occupational Diseases Rec. (No. 194), 2002.
Recommendation No. 3 suggests making of arrangements for the disinfection of wool infected with anthrax spores either, in the country exporting such wool, or at the port of the entry. Recommendation No. 4 deals with the protection of workers against lead poisoning and provides that the employment of women and young persons in processes involving the use of lead compounds be permitted only on the adoption of certain health precautions. Recommendation No. 6 prohibits the use of white phosphorus in the manufacture of matches. The White Lead (Painting) Con. (No. 13), 1921, forbids the use of white lead and sulphate of lead and all products containing these pigments in the internal painting of buildings. Working Environment (Air Pollution, Noise and Vibration) Con. (No. 148) and Rec. (No. 156) were adopted in 1977.
The Labour Inspection (Health Service) Rec. (No. 5), 1919 deals with the establishment of Government Health Services specially for safeguarding the health of workers. The Protection of Workers’ Health Rec. (No. 96), 1953 relates to the protection of health of workers in places of employment and covers a wide range of health aspects including health hazards, medical examinations, notification of occupational diseases and the provision of first aid facilities. The Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health (Con. 187), 2006 and Rec. (No. 197), 2006 concern with promotional framework in the field.
The ILO has taken recourse to a number of activities in promoting the welfare of workers. Two Recommendations deal with various aspects of workers’ welfare. The Utilization of Spare Time Rec. (No. 21), 1924 deals with the principles and methods for securing the best use of the spare time of workers. The Living-in Conditions (Agriculture) Rec. (No. 16), 1921 Recommends that measures should be adopted to regulate the living-in conditions of agricultural workers with due regard to the climatic or other conditions affecting agricultural work. Other Recommendations dealing with welfare are Welfare Facilities (No. 102), 1956 and Workers’ Housing (No. 115), 1961.
The International Labour Conference has given serious attention to the problems of social security against various risks to which workers are exposed. A number of Conventions and Recommendations deal with workmen’s compensation, sickness insurance, invalidity, old age and survivors’ insurance, unemployment provisions, maternity protection and general aspects of social security. A brief description of the Conventions and Recommendations dealing with social security is given under suitable sub-heads below.
Conventions dealing with workmen’s compensation are Workmen’s Compensation (Accidents) Con. (No. 17), 1925; Workmen’s Compensation (Occupational Diseases) Con. (No. 18), 1925; Equality of Treatment (Accident Compensation) Con. (No. 19), 1925; Workmen’s Compensation (Occupational Diseases) (Revised) Con. (No. 42), 1934 and Employment Injury Benefits Con. (No. 121), 1964. The Recommendations adopted in this field include Workmen’s Compensation (Minimum Scale) (No. 22). Workmen’s Compensation (Jurisdiction) (No. 23), Workmen’s Compensation (Occupational Diseases) (No. 24), and Equality of Treatment (Accident Compensation) (No. 25), all adopted in 1925, and Employment Injury Benefits Rec. (No. 121), 1964.
Convention No. 17 provides that workmen should receive compensation for personal injury caused due to industrial accident. Compensation for death or permanent disablement should be in the form of periodical payments and injured workmen should be entitled to receive necessary medial aid. Recommendation No. 22 suggests certain scales of compensation.
Convention No. 18, subsequently revised by Con. No. 42, provides for the payment of compensation to workmen incapacitated by certain occupational diseases. In the event of death resulting from such occupational diseases, compensation should be paid to the dependants of the deceased workmen. The Convention also lays down that the rates of compensation should not be less than those prescribed by national enactments for injury resulting from industrial accidents. Convention No. 19 deals with equality of treatment in matters of compensation. Conventions Nos. 18 and 19 have been ratified by India.
The Sickness Insurance (Industry) Convention (No. 24) and Sickness Insurance (Agriculture) Con. (No. 25), both adopted in 1927, deal with sickness insurance of workers employed respectively in industry and agriculture. Both the Conventions Recommend the establishment of a system of compulsory sickness insurance and provide for the payment of cash benefit for at least the first 26 weeks of incapacity to insured persons who are unable to work owing to sickness. Insured persons should also be made entitled to receive free medical aid from the commencement of illness until the expiry of the benefit period. The expenses of the scheme are to be met both by the employers and workers. The Medical Care and Sickness Benefits Con. (No. 130), supplemented by Rec. (No. 134), 1969, provides higher standards for the medical care and sickness benefits.
Invalidity, Old Age and Survivors’ Insurance
In 1933, the International Labour Conference adopted a series of Conventions dealing with the minimum conditions that ought to be complied with by every scheme of compulsory invalidity, old age and survivors’ insurance. These are Old Age Insurance (Industry) Con. (No. 5), Old-Age Insurance (Agriculture) Con. (No. 36), Invalidity Insurance (Industry, and Others) Con. (No. 38), Invalidity Insurance (Agriculture) Con. (No. 38), Survivors’ Insurance (Industry and Others) Con. (No. 39) and Survivors’ Insurance (Agriculture) Con. (No. 40). All the Conventions provide that the right to pension may be conditional upon successful completion of a qualifying period which may also involve payment of a minimum number of contributions. The expenses of the schemes are to be met by insured workers, employers and public authorities. The Invalidity, Old-Age and Survivors’ Insurance Rec. (No. 43), 1933 lays down the details of the scheme. Convention Nos. 35–40 were subsequently revised by the Invalidity, Old-Age and Survivors’ Benefits Con. (No. 128), 1967. Recommendation No. 131 of the same name was also adopted the same year.
The Unemployment Provisions Con. (No. 44), 1934 deals with unemployment insurance, the scheme of which may be compulsory, voluntary or a combination of both. The scheme, as laid down in the Convention, provides for the payment of unemployment benefit on the satisfaction of certain conditions, if necessary. The duration of benefit may be limited to a period which is not normally to be less than 156 working days per year. The Unemployment Provisions Rec. (No. 47), 1934 deals with the scheme of unemployment insurance. Employment Promotion and Protection against Unemployment Con. (No. 168) and Rec. (No. 176) were adopted in 1988.
Broader Forms of Social Security
Of late, the International Labour Conference has devoted attention to the broader forms of social security and has adopted a few Conventions and Recommendations for developing an integrated programme of social security in the member states. The Social Security (Minimum Standards) Con. (No. 102), 1952, deals with nine different branches of social security including medical care, sickness benefit, unemployment benefit, old age benefit, employment injury benefit, family benefit, maternity benefit, invalidity benefit and survivors’ benefit. The Convention prescribes minimum standards of each of mentioned branches of social security in relation to the range of persons protected, conditions of the right to receive the benefit, and the rate and duration of benefits. The ratifying countries are authorized to maintain at least three out of the nine branches of social security.
The Income Security Rec. (No. 67) and the Medical Care Rec. (No. 69) both adopted in 1944 deal with income security and medical care, respectively. Recommendation No. 67 suggests the establishment of an organization for income security consisting of a unified social insurance system. Such as organization should function in cooperation with medial and unemployment services and should also be supplemented by system of social assistance, Recommendation No. 69 deals with various methods of organizing a comprehensive system of medical care which is ultimately to cover the entire population. The Equality of Treatment (Social Security) Con. (No. 118), 1962 deals with equality of treatment in extending social security benefits. The Maintenance of Social Security Rights Con. (No. 157), 1982 deals with social security rights.
From its inception, ILO has given attention to the question of freedom of association and harmonious industrial relations. It has conducted a number of studies covering the problems of freedom of association, collective bargaining, conciliation and arbitration and methods of labour management cooperation. Besides, a few Conventions and Recommendations have also been adopted on these subjects. The relevant Conventions are Right of Association (Agriculture) (No. 11), 1921, Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (No. 87), 1948, Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (No. 98), 1949, Collective Bargaining (No. 154), 1981, Rural Workers’ Organisations (No. 141), 1975 and Tripartite Consultations (International Labour Standards) (No. 144), 1975. Conventions Nos. 87 and 98 have been included for implementation once priority basis under the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at work adopted by the IL Conference in 1998. The Recommendations include Collective Agreements (No. 91), 1951; Voluntary Conciliation and Arbitration (No. 92), 1951; Collective Bargaining (No. 163), 1981; Consultation (Industrial and National Levels) (No. 113), 1960; Cooperation at the Level of the Undertaking (No. 94), 1952 and Employment Relationship (No. 198), 2006.
Convention No. 11, which has been ratified by India, deals with the right of association of agricultural workers and requires the ratifying countries to secure to all agricultural workers the same right of association and combination, as available to industrial workers. Convention No. 87 lays down that workers and employers shall have the right to establish and to join organizations of their own choosing without any previous authorization. The organizations are to be left free to frame their constitutions and rules, to form a scheme of administration and to formulate their programmes and the public authorities are required to refrain from making any interference. It also affirms their right to establish joint confederation and to affiliate with international organizations.
Convention No. 98 deals with the principles of right to organize and bargain collectively. It provides that workers should enjoy adequate protection against Acts of anti-union discrimination in respect of their employment and Recommends the adoption of measures to encourage and promote voluntary negotiations between employers and workers’ organizations for regulating terms and conditions of employment by means of collective agreements.
Recommendation Nos. 91 and 92 deal with the creation of a machinery for negotiating, conducting, revising and renewing collective agreements, and provide for the establishment of machinery to help in voluntary conciliation of industrial disputes. Recommendation No. 94 relates to consultation and cooperation between employers and workers at the level of the undertaking, primarily on matters of mutual interests which are not otherwise covered under collective bargaining or dealt with by the machinery created for the determination of terms and conditions of employment. Recommendation No. 198 deals with various aspects of employment relationships in industry. Other Conventions and Recommendations dealing with the subject include Labour Relations (Public Service) Con. (No. 151) and Rec. (No. 159), 1978 and Examination of Grievances Rec. (Public Service) (Con. 151) and Rec. (No. 159), 1978 and Examination of Grievances Rec. (No. 130), 1967.
EMPLOYMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT
A number of Conventions and Recommendations deal with problems of assuring suitable employment to workers. These primarily concern with employment offices, recruitment of certain types of labour under equitable conditions and reduction of unemployment.
The Unemployment Con. (No. 2) 1919, the ratification of which has now been denounced by India, provides for the establishment of a system of free public employment agencies, as one of the measures against unemployment. The Employment Service Con. (No. 88), 1948 deals with the maintenance of free public employment service consisting of a national system of local and regional employment offices under the direction of a national authority. The Fee-charging Employment Agencies Con. (No. 34), 1933, subsequently revised by Fee-charging Employment Agencies (Revised) Con. (No. 96), 1949, provides for the abolition of fee-charging employment agencies which are conducted for profit, and for proper supervision of those not conducted for profit, Convention No. 88 has been ratified by India.
The Employment Service Rec. (No. 72), 1944 and the Employment Service Rec. (No. 83), 1948 deal with the functions of employment service in the transition from war to peace, and the maintenance of a free public employment service, respectively.
The Forced Labour Convention (No. 29), 1930, and (No. 105), 1957, which have been ratified by India, provide for the abolition of forced labour in all its forms. However, so long as forced or compulsory labour is not abolished, it is the duty of the relevant countries to prevent its use for private profit, to use it only during period of essential necessity and to provide for the protection and welfare of any worker so employed. Both the Conventions have been covered under the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work adopted by the IL Conference in 1998, the provisions of which are to be implemented on a priority basis. The Forced Labour (Indirect Compulsion) Rec. (No. 35), 1930 and Forced Labour (Regulation) Rec. (No. 36), 1930 supplement the provisions of the Convention.
Public Works Policy
The Unemployment Recommendation (No. 1), 1919, the Public Works (National Planning) Recs. (No. 51), 1937 and (No. 73), 1944 deal with problems of public works policy adopted as a measure for the creation of employment opportunities. Recommendation No. 1 suggests coordination in the execution of all work undertaken under a public authority with the purpose of reserving such work for periods of unemployment and for areas mostly affected by it. Recommendation No. 51 mainly Recommends the adoption of appropriate measures to achieve a suitable timing of all works undertaken or financed by public authorities including an increase in the volume of such works during depression. Recommendation No. 73 deals with the public works policy during transition from war to peace.
Other Conventions and Recommendations dealing with employment and unemployment include Employment Policy (Supplementary Provisions) Rec. (No. 169), 1984; Private Employment Agencies Con. (No. 181) and Rec. (No. 188), 1997; Human Resources Development Con. (No. 142) and Rec. (No. 150), 1975 and (No. 195), 2004; Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Con. (No. 159) and Rec. (No. 168), 1983; and Termination of Employment Con. (No. 158) and Rec. (No. 166), 1982.
OTHER SPECIAL CATEGORIES
The ILO has given special attention to the conditions of employment of seamen. A number of Conventions and Recommendations deal exclusively with various aspects of working conditions of seamen. These relate to the questions of hours of work, wages, facilities for finding employment, seamen’s articles, employment of young persons, officers’ competency certificates, annual holidays with pay, sickness and unemployment insurance, ship-owners’ liability, repatriation of seamen and social security. Similarly, a few Conventions and Recommendations deal with fishermen, workers in inland navigation, dock workers, nursing personnel, employees of hotels and restaurants, indigenous and tribal peoples, migrant workers and older workers.
INFLUENCE ON INDIAN LABOUR LEGISLATION
A study of the contents of many of the Conventions and Recommendations described above and those of the specific pieces of labour enactments dealt with in the proceeding few chapters will reveal similarities in quite a number of specific provisions. So far, India has ratified 40 out of 188 Conventions adopted by ILO. The ratification of the Conventions has put India under the obligation of implementing their provisions through their incorporation in labour laws and collective agreements or in other effective ways. In India, the provisions of most of the ratified Conventions have been given effect to mainly through their incorporation in labour laws, a reference of which has been made in the relevant sections of particular labour enactments in the preceding chapters. Labour laws in the country have also been influenced extensively by the provisions even of unratified Conventions and a number of Recommendations. The assistance of ILO’s experts in the drafting of certain labour enactments, technical assistance, and studies, reports and publications of the organization have also been influencing factors. It may be noted here that, of the Conventions not ratified by India, some have been denounced, some do not concern India and some relate to seamen whose ratification depends on arrangements established in other countries. In this section, an effort has been made to bring to the fore the main areas of the influence of ILO’s Conventions and Recommendations on the Indian labour legislation under suitable heads.
CONDITIONS OF WORK
Hours of Work
The Hours of Work (Industry) Convention, 1919 adopted in the first session of the International Labour Conference limits the hours of work in industrial undertakings to 8 in the day and 48 in the week. It provides certain exceptions in respect of persons holding supervisory or managerial positions and those employed in confidential capacity. The limits of hours of work may be exceeded in certain cases, for instance, in the events of accident, urgent work, in continuous processes and so on. It contains special provisions for countries where the 48-hours work might be inapplicable.
India ratified the Convention in 1921 on getting special relaxation. The existing labour laws incorporating the provisions of the Convention include Factories Act, 1948; Mines Act, 1952; Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966; and Plantation Labour Act, 1951.
Similar Conventions like Hours of Work and Rest Periods (Road Transport) (No. 67), 1939, and (No. 153), 1979, and Night Work (Road Transport) Rec. (No. 63), 1939 have been adopted in respect of road transport. Although India has not ratified them, many of their provisions have been incorporated in the Motor Transport Workers’ Act, 1961.Conventions concerning hours of work such as No. 30, 130, and Recommendation Nos. 37 and 38, applicable to commerce and offices, have also influenced the provisions of Shops and Establishments Acts in the country.
The Weekly Rest (Industry) Con. (No. 14), 1921 was ratified by India in 1923.The Convention provides that the entire personnel employed in any industrial undertaking is to enjoy in every period of 7 days, a period of rest amounting to at least 24 consecutive hours. Most of the protective labour laws in the country such as Factories Act, 1948, Mines Act, 1952; Plantation Labour Act, 1951; Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966; Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986; Motor Transport Workers’ Act, 1961; Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 and even Shops and Establishment Acts contain provisions of this or similar other Conventions.
Holidays with Pay
India has not ratified ILO’s Holidays with Pay Conventions as the standards laid down under the protective labour laws in the country have been higher than those prescribed under the Conventions.
Protection of Wages
The Protection of Wages Con. (No. 95), 1949 provides that wages payable in money must be paid regularly in legal tender and deductions may be permitted only under conditions and to the extent prescribed by national enactments, collective agreements or arbitration awards. Protection of Wages Rec. (No. 85) adopted the same year, contains detailed rules relating to deductions from wages, fixation of wage periods and so forth. Although India has not ratified the Convention, its provisions have been contained in the Payment of Wages Act, 1936; Minimum Wages Act, 1948; Shops and Establishments Acts, Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 and a few other protective labour laws.
The Minimum Wages Fixing Machinery Con. (No. 26) 1928, (No. 131), 1970 and Rec. (No. 30), 1928, deal with the provision of wage-fixing machinery and consultation with employers and workers in minimum wage fixation. India has ratified Convention (No. 26), 1928 and incorporated its provisions in the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. The Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery (Agriculture) Con. (No. 99) and Rec. (No. 89) have also influenced the contents of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.
India has ratified the Labour Inspection Con. (No. 81), 1947.The existing protective labour laws such as those relating to factories, mines, plantations, shops and establishments, motor transport, beedi and cigar establishments, payment of wages, minimum wages, child labour, maternity benefit and others contain the provisions of the Convention. Conventions not ratified by India such as (No. 129), 1969 and (No. 150), 1978 and Recommendations (Nos. 20, 80 and 81) have also influenced legislative clauses relating to labour administration and inspection.
EMPLOYMENT OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PERSONS
India has ratified quite a few Conventions relating to employment of children and young persons. These include (a) Minimum Age (Industry) Con. (No. 5), 1919; (b) Minimum Age (Trimmers and Stockers) Con. (No. 15), 1921: (c) Minimum Age (Underground Work) Con. (No. 123), 1965; (d) Medical Examination of Young Persons (Sea) Con. (No. 16), 1921; and (e) Night Work of Young Persons (Industry) Con. (No. 6),1919 and (No. 90), 1948.The existing labour laws incorporating the provisions of the above ratified Conventions include the Factories Act, 1948; Mines Act, 1952; Plantation Labour Act, 1951; Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986; Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966; Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 and similar other protective labour laws. These laws have also embodied many provisions of other Conventions and Recommendations relating to employment of children and young persons, particularly, Minimum Age (Non-Industrial Employment) Con. (No. 33), 1932, Medical Examination of Young Persons (Industry) Con. (No. 77), 1946, and Night Work of Young Persons (Non-Industrial Occupations) Con. (No. 79), 1946. Efforts are also being made to implement the provisions of the Worst Forms of Child Labour Con. (No. 182), 1999.
EMPLOYMENT OF WOMEN
The relevant Conventions relating to women workers ratified by India are: (a) Night Work (Women) Con. (No. 4), 1919; (b) Night Work (Women) (Revised) Con. (No. 41), 1934; (c) Night Work(Women)(Revised) Con. (No. 89), 1948; (d) Equal Remuneration Con. (No. 100), 1951; (e) Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Con. (No. 111), 1958; and Underground Work (Women) Con. (No. 45), 1935. Provisions of Conventions relating to night work, that is, Nos. 4, 41 and 89 have been incorporated in the protective labour laws like Factories Act, 1948, Mines Act, 1952, Plantation Labour Act, 1951, Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 and other similar laws. The provisions of the Equal Remuneration Con. (No. 100), 1951 and those of the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Con. (No. 111), 1958 have been given effect to by the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.The provisions of the Underground Work (Women) Con. (No. 45), 1935 have been incorporated in the Mines Act, 1952.
Although India has not ratified Maternity Protection Conventions (No. 3), 1919, (No. 103), 1952, and (No. 183), 2000, the Maternity benefit Act, 1961 and the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948, incorporate many of their provisions.
India has ratified Marking of Weight (Packages Transported by Vessels) Con. (No. 27), 1929, Radiation Protection Con. (No. 115), 1960 and Benzene Con. (No. 136), 1971.The provisions of Con. No. 27 have been incorporated in the Marking of Heavy Packages Act, 1951, and those of Con. Nos. 115 and 136, in safety provisions of Factories Act, 1948 and laws dealing with pollution. The provisions of the Protection against Accidents (Dockers) Con. (No. 32), 1934, which has also been ratified by India have been covered by the Indian Dock Labourers Act, 1934.
Existing safety and health provisions of labour laws relating to factories, mines, docks, and others also contains many provisions of a few other Conventions and Recommendations. Some of these are Prevention of Industrial Accidents Rec. (No. 31)1929; Power-driven Machinery Rec. (No. 32), 1929; Labour Inspection Rec. (No. 20), 1923; Guarding of Machinery Con. (No. 119), 1963; Occupational Safety and Health Con. (No. 155), 1981; and Industrial Accidents Con. (No. 174), 1993. A few protective labour laws, also contain certain provisions of Welfare Facilities Rec. (No. 102), 1956 and Workers’ Housing Rec. (No. 115), 1961.
The Conventions relating to social security ratified by India are Workmen’s Compensation (Occupational Diseases) Con. (No. 18), 1925, and Con. (No. 42), 1934, Equality of Treatment (Accident Compensation) Con. (No. 19), 1925 and Equality of Treatment (Social Security) Con. (No. 111), 1962. The provisions of Conventions Nos. 18 and 19 have been incorporated in the Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923 and Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948.The social security laws in the country, for instance, Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923, Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948, Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, and the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 embody the provisions of Con. (No. 111) of 1962.These laws do not make any discrimination between nationals and foreigners relating to entitlement to social security benefits.
Social security legislation in the country has also been influenced by Conventions not formally ratified by India, and also by standards set by a few Recommendations in the area. For example, the Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923, and the Employees’ State Insurance(ESI) Act, 1948, contain many provisions of Workmen’s Compensation (Accidents) Con. (No. 17), 1925.Employment Injury Benefits Con. (No. 121), 1964, Workmen’s Compensation (Occupational Diseases) Rec. (No. 24), 1925 and Employment Injury Benefits Con. (No. 121) and Rec. (No. 121), 1964.
The provisions of Sickness Insurance (Industry) Con. (No. 24), 1927 and Medical Care and Sickness Benefits Con. (No. 130), 1969 have also been partly embodied in the ESI Act, 1948.
The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948, Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 and Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 also contain many corresponding standards set under Old-age Insurance (Industry) Con. (No. 35), Invalidity Insurance (Industry, etc.) Con. (No. 37), Survivors’ Insurance (Industry) Con. (No. 39) all adopted in 1933; and Old-age and Survivors’ Benefits Con. (No. 128), and Rec. (No. 131), 1967. The provisions of the Social Security (Minimum Standards) Con. (No. 102), 1952 have been partly incorporated in the ESI Act, 1948.
The Conventions relating to industrial relations ratified by India are Right of Association (Agriculture) Con. (No. 17), 1921, Rural Workers Organisation Con. (No. 141), 1975, and Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Con. (No. 144), 1976. The provisions of Conventions Nos. 11 and 141 have been included in the Trade Unions Act, 1926. The contents of Con. (No. 144), 1976 have been given effect to by the provisions of labour laws providing for the constitution of tripartite bodies such as Minimum Wages Act, 1948, ESI Act, 1948, and also by non-statutory measures.
The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, contains some provisions of a few unratified Conventions and Recommendations which include Collective Bargaining Con. (No. 154), 1981, Collective Agreements Rec. (No. 91), 1951. Voluntary Conciliation and Arbitration Rec. (No. 92), 1951; and Collective Bargaining Rec. (No. 163), 1981.
The Conventions concerning employment and unemployment ratified by India include Unemployment Con. (No. 2), 1919 (later denounced), Employment Services Con. (No. 88), 1948, Employment and Social Policy Con. (No. 122), 1964, Forced Labour Con. (No. 29), 1930 and Abolition of Forced Labour Con. (No. 105), 1957.
The provisions of the Conventions relating to unemployment and employment have been given effect to by administrative orders and practices, supplemented by a few labour laws such as Employment Exchanges (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act, 1976. Forced labour has been prohibited by fundamental right against exploitation under the Indian Constitution.
OTHER SPECIAL CATEGORIES
Other special categories of Conventions ratified by India include Inspection of Emigrants Con. (No. 21), 1926, Seamen’s Articles of Agreement Con. (No. 22), 1928, Marking of Weight (Packages Transported by Vessels) Con. (No. 27), 1929, Final Articles Revision Con. (No. 80), 1947 (excluding Part II), Indigenous and Tribal Population Con. (No. 107), 1957 and certain Articles of Labour Statistics Con. (No. 160), 1985.
Provisions of Con. (No. 21), 1926 have been incorporated in the Emigration Act, 1983 and partly in the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979. The Marking of Heavy Packages Act, 1951 embodies the provisions of Con. (No. 27), 1929. The Collection of Statistics Act, 1953 deals with the provisions of Con. (160), 1985.
As stated in the beginning of this part, Indian labour legislation has been influenced by ILO in other ways also. These include assistance of experts in the drafting of laws and codes, technical assistance, studies, reports and relevant publications, and information services.
DIFFICULTIES IN THE ADOPTION OF CONVENTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
As has been mentioned earlier, Conventions and Recommendations of the ILO seek to prescribe and indicate internationally uniform minimum labour standards. The purpose is to see that the labour standards in the member countries are not below the ones prescribed by the ILO. As the member countries of ILO are at different stages of economic growth and industrial advancement, the capacity to maintain and preserve labour standards differs from country to country, depending upon their relative economic prosperity. Some of the countries are extremely poor, economically and technologically backward having, therefore, very poor labour standards, and are incapable of securing any immediate improvement in the same. On the other hand, there are highly industrially advanced countries with national income sufficiently large enough to ensure equally high labour standards. There are many countries at the intermediate stage of economic development.
This uneven economic development on the world scale presents the main hindrance to the adoption of a Convention or Recommendation, laying down a minimum labour standard. What may be too high for economically backward and poor countries may, perhaps, be too low for the rich countries. A Convention or Recommendation seeking to bring about a significant improvement in labour standards runs the risk of being unrelated to the prevailing labour standards and beyond the economic, and administrative capacity of many countries. A Convention or Recommendation has to gain acceptance from the member countries if it is to be effective in achieving its purposes. The Convention which seeks to provide really high labour standards will fail to secure acceptance and what may succeed in securing acceptance, may not in reality be able to prescribe high labour standards. It is a dilemma which has confronted ILO since its very inception.
Thus, Conventions and Recommendations, if they are to be of real weight in the establishment of internationally uniform labour standards, ‘must strike an appropriate balance between the ideal and the immediately practicable and between precision and flexibility’.13 It is creditable that ILO has been able to adopt 188 Conventions and 199 Recommendations dealing with diverse aspects of labour in spite of contradictory pressures pulling in different directions.
The process of evolving internationally uniform minimum labour standards does not end with the adoption of a Convention or Recommendation. A Convention has to secure ratification from the appropriate authorities in the member states. A country ratifying a Convention undertakes international obligation with other member states, to put into effect the provisions of the Convention by legislative or other appropriate measures. It is, therefore, pertinent here to examine the difficulties which face some of the member countries in ratifying ILO’s Conventions.
As on 31 March 2010 there were 182 member states and 188 Conventions adopted by the ILO. The average ratifications per country come to merely 35. Many countries have ratifications below the average of 35. There are a few countries each having less than 10 ratifications. France and Spain have ratified the maximum number of Conventions. None of the Conventions has succeeded in securing cent per cent ratification. The highest number of ratifications has been secured by Forced Labour Cons. (No. 29) (No. 105), Freedom of Association and Protection of Right to Organise (No. 87), Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Con. (No. 98), Equal Remuneration Con. (No. 100), Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Con. (No. 111), Minimum Age Con. (138) and Worst Forms of Child Labour Con. (182)
However, it is pertinent to mention here that the impact of ILO on international labour standards or labour standards in a particular country should not be judged only by the number of ratifications that a country has secured. There are many countries which are in agreement with the principles incorporated in many of the Conventions and have sought to implement them either wholly or partly, through legislative or other appropriate administrative measures, and still have not ratified those Conventions. Therefore, it is appropriate to examine the difficulties which some of the member states experience in formally ratifying these Conventions. These member countries may, for the sake of convenience, be grouped under the following heads:
- Countries with higher labour standards
- Countries having a federal set-up
- Countries where the subject matters of the Conventions are regulated by collective agreements
- Industrially backward countries.
Countries with Higher Labour Standards
Countries having standards of labour higher than those envisaged under International Labour Conventions, experience a special problem of ratification. In such countries, acceptance of Conventions prescribing standards lower than the existing ones may involve considerable political effort, as there is obviously little interest in the subject. Besides, it is feared that the approval given to lower minimum standards will impair the authority of the higher national standards. In case where ratification of a Convention necessitates a change in the law of the land, legal difficulties are also encountered. Although the ratification of an International Labour Convention does not imply undermining of the higher national standards, many countries have experienced the above mentioned difficulties in according a formal ratification to many of the Conventions. Attempts have, however, been made to remove these difficulties by providing ‘no prejudice’ clause in the Conventions and other measures. Nevertheless, the number of ratifications of the Conventions in many countries (with a few exceptions) having comparatively higher labour standards, still continues to be small.
Countries Having a Federal Set-up
The application of Conventions by countries having a federal set-up also involves difficulties owing to the division of the legislative and executive authorities between the federal government and the constituent units. The national authority, which is immediately expected to pursue the implementation of the provisions of a Convention, finds itself constitutionally handicapped, as in many cases, the subject falls under the jurisdiction of the constituent units. The extent of such a difficulty, however, varies from country to country depending upon variations in the distribution of the authority between the federal government and the federating units. Where constituent units have been given comparatively greater autonomy, ratification of Conventions becomes more difficult. On the whole, the number of ratifications of Conventions by federal states has been small. It is on account of these reasons that the Constitution of ILO imposes certain additional obligations on the federal states in regard to ratification of Conventions.14
Countries Where Subject Matters of Conventions are Regulated by Collective Agreements
In some countries having highly developed industrial organizations, many issues forming the subject matters of International Labour Conventions are traditionally decided by collective agreements between employers and trade unions, and the state deliberately refrains from making interference. It is presumably due to this reason that the Constitution of ILO makes room for the application of Conventions by collective agreements also. However, in many cases it is very difficult for the competent national authority to enforce the provisions of a Convention on the parties without destroying their freedom to bargain collectively, which ultimately means involving still wider problems of industrial relations. This is particularly true in cases where collective agreements provide for standards higher than those established by the Conventions. Moreover, even when the competent national authority succeeds in persuading the parties to enter into agreement in accordance with the provisions of a Convention, there is still the problem of ensuring the acceptance of obligation for a substantial period of time, as many terms of collective agreements are changed at frequent intervals. Besides, the levels at which collective agreements are reached (for example, plant, region, and others) also create further difficulties.
Industrially Backward Countries
Economically and industrially backward countries have generally very poor labour standards and they often find it very difficult to bring about any immediate improvement in the same. Although the International Labour Conventions which create only minimum standards are adopted after a thorough investigation into and with due regard to the stages of economic and industrial development of different member states, the standards so established often seem burdensome to many extremely poor and economically backward countries. These countries find it very difficult to ratify Conventions prescribing high labour standards. The ratification of Conventions which are in keeping with the prevailing labour standards does not involve many difficulties.
The foregoing has covered certain pertinent aspects relating to the International Labour Organization—its establishment, objectives and principles, structure, activities, creation of international standards of labour, influence on Indian labour legislation, and problems of adoption and ratification of Conventions and Recommendations. During the course of time, the activities of the organization has become increasingly more diversified and the participation of the member countries has become more active. Of late, ILO has started giving more attention to the labour matters in the developing countries and special target groups of workers, such as child and women labour and workers in unorganized and rural sectors. Its role in providing technical cooperation, encouragement to workers and employers’ organizations in the formulation and implementation of labour policy and provision of training, has considerably expanded.
- Although efforts at establishing a forum for the international regulation of labour were made from the middle of the nineteenth century, a formal organization could materialize only in 1919, when the International Labour Organization was established under the Treaty of Versailles as an organ of the League of Nations. The League of Nations became defunct during the Second World War, but the ILO continued to maintain its existence. In 1946, the ILO came into relationship with the United Nations as one of its specialized agencies.
- The Preamble to the Constitution of the ILO inter alia aims at the establishment of lasting peace based on social justice; elimination of injustice, hardship and privation of labour; improvement of working conditions and terms and conditions of employment of workers; and establishment of humane conditions of work. The organization also enunciated certain fundamental principles. The general conference of the organizaton at its session held in Philadelphia in 1944 re-affirmed these principles and adopted a declaration setting forth its aims and purposes in details along with certain other principles which would inspire the policy of its members. The Philadelphia Charter covers a wide range of subjects concerning labour.
- The membership of the ILO is open to all the member states of the United Nations. Presently, the organization has 182 member states.
- The ILO operates through three main organs, namely, (i) International Labour Conference, (ii) Governing Body, and (iii) International Labour Office. The IL Conference is comprised of four delegates nominated by each of the member states, of whom two are government delegates and one each representing employers and workers. The IL Conference is the supreme body of the organization. It directs the work of the governing body and IL office. One of the most important tasks of the IL Conference is to create uniform international standards of labour through the instruments of Conventions and Recommendations. The Governing Body is composed of 56 members, 28 representing government and 14 representing employers and workers, each. The International Labour Office is the permanent secretariat, a world information centre and a publishing house. It is headed by the director general.
- The Conventions and Recommendations of the ILO cover a wide range of spectrum of labour-related matters. These have included conditions of work, including hours of work, weekly rest, holidays with pay, and wages; employment of children and young persons; employment of women; industrial health, safety and welfare; social security; industrial relations employment and unemployment; and other special categories.
- There has been a marked impact of the Conventions and Recommendations on the Indian labour legislation. The impact is observable in various areas, particularly conditions of work, employment of children and young persons, employment of women, forced labour, social security and industrial relations. India has so far ratified 40 Conventions.
- Other activities of the ILO include promotion of employment, collection and distribution of information, publication, research and studies, training, development of social institutions, provision of fellowship, organizing seminar and special conferences and making available the services of experts to the member states in need.
- Adoption of Conventions and Recommendations involve certain difficulties on account of such factors as (i) disparities in the stage of economic and industrial development of member countries, (ii) prevalence of very high level of labour standards of some countries, and (iii) extremely low level of labour standards prevalent in others.
- Some of the problems relating to ratification of Conventions by member states are: (i) difficulties experienced by countries with higher labour standards, (ii) federal set up of government in some countries, (iii) subject matters covered under Conventions being governed by collective bargaining in many countries and (iv) particular difficulties faced by economically poor and undeveloped countries.
QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW
- Describe the background leading to the establishment of the ILO. Briefly mention its fundamental principles and contents of the Philadelphia Charter.
- Explain the organizational structure of the ILO along with the composition and functions of each organ.
- Distinguish between Convention and Recommendation of the ILO. Explain their role in the creation of international standards on labour-related matters.
- Explain the impact of ILO on Indian labour legislation. Cite examples in support of your answer.
- Briefly describe the various activities of the ILO.
- Explain the difficulties involved in the adoption and ratification of Conventions of the ILO.
International Labour Code
High contracting parties
Case Study 1
What are the problems associated with the ratification of Conventions of the ILO?
ILO’s Forced Labour Convention (No. 29), 1930 and the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention (No. 105), 1957 deal with the abolition of forced labour in all its forms. India has ratified both the Conventions. The Minimum Age Convention (No. 138), 1973 provides a general instrument on child labour replacing the existing ones on the subject which are applicable to limited economic sectors with a view to securing total abolition of child labour. The Convention requires the member states to adopt a national policy raising progressively the minimum age for admission to employment. The Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No. 182), 1999 requires the ratifying member states to take immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency. The Convention also specifies these worst forms. The Equal Remuneration Convention (No. 100), 1951 calls for equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value.
The Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention (No. 87), 1948 lays down that workers and employers shall have the right to establish and to join organizations of their own choosing without any previous authorization. The Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention (No. 98), 1949 provides that workers should enjoy adequate protection against Acts of anti-union discrimination in respect of their employment and Recommends the adoption of measures to encourage and promote voluntary negotiations between employers and workers’ organizations for regulating terms and conditions of employment by means of collective agreements.
The Holidays with Pay Convention (No. 52), 1936 fixes the length of holidays at not less than 6 working days after a year’s service, and for persons under 16, the annual holidays are not to be less than 12 working days.
The Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention (No. 102), 1952 deals with nine different branches of social security including medical benefit, sickness benefit, unemployment benefit, old-age benefit, employment injury benefit, family benefit, maternity benefit, invalidity benefit and survivors’ benefit. The ratifying countries are authorized to maintain at least three out of the nine branches of social security. The Maternity Protection Convention (No. 183), 2000 requires the ratifying member states to take steps to ensure that pregnant or breast-feeding women are not obliged to perform work which is prejudicial to the health of the mother or the child. A woman is entitled to maternity leave for a period not less than 14 weeks, and a further period of leave in the case of illness or complications arising out of pregnancy or childbirth.
Which law in India incorporates the provisions of Conventions relating to forced labour?
Which of the Conventions have a direct relevance to the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Right at Work adopted by the IL Conference in 1998?
Why has India not ratified the Holidays with Pay Convention (No. 52), 1936?
What could be reasons for India’s not ratifying the Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention (No. 102), 1952?
Has India ratified the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention (No. 87), 1948 and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention (No. 98), 1949?
Which Convention has secured the maximum number of ratifications?