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Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work

Fundamental human rights encompass the rights at work of employees to protect them from exploitation. Undoubtedly, workers’ have faced mistreatment in the name of labor. Especially, during the Great Depression, post-WW-I and WW-II followed by decolonization and other epochs of inflation in history. Just to feed their families people worked hard ignoring the fact they are living beings. They needed safety and for that, a separate entity and laws protect their rights at work.

Which Organization Protects Labor Rights at work?

Contented prevention of fundamental human rights requires a supervisory organization to look after the proper working of the administration. Similarly, the International Labor Organization (ILO) protects the rights at work of laborers and workers. In 1919 during the post-WW-I and the Great Depression period, authorities established the ILO under the treaty of Versailles.

For the formation of the ILO, a commission of nine representative countries was created that prepared the constitution of ILO. Hence, we can say the ILO is a statutory body (derived from a statute). Howsoever, it adopted the first declaration in 1998.

What is International Labor Organization (ILO)?

the ILO formation commission
credit: The ILO

It is a tri-party agency of the United Nations (UN) that works on the promotion, protection, and maintenance of labor rights. Like many other universal organizations, the ILO has a constitution, member states, and administrative members. The executive members include government officials, employers, and employees. And these tripartite members come from all the member states.

The ILO was developed under the supervision of the League of Nations however, subsequently went under the command of the UN in 1945. It is pertinent to notice the underlying purpose of the ILO’s creation lies in the political, and economic backdrop. The founders believed social peace and justice require the elimination of the exploitation of workers. Although, all the existing states are not members of the ILO still they respect the fundamental principles of the convention.

Constitution of the ILO

The constitution provides the purpose, goals, functions, structure, and working of the ILO. It consists of one preamble, four chapters, and two annexures. The preamble summarizes the objectives of the institution as:

  • Social justice forms the basis of social justice and peace
  • Regulation of working hours and labor supply, prevention of unemployment, child labor, women’s labor, protection against sickness and injury leave, and recognition of equal pay require urgent improvement.
  • The principle of freedom to associate is also recognized
  • Failure to adopt humane treatment of workers is an obstacle to attaining peace

Moreover, chapter one explains the structure, member states, and working of the organization that what it is and how does it work? Following this chapter two solely deals with the annual conference and specifies the voting procedure of member states. Further, in chapters three and four various miscellaneous provisions are mentioned.

What is International Labor Conference?

This conference is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland where member states representatives meet to frame the global pro-workers policies. Representative members discuss the social, economic, and political challenges of the workers. Even so, they take into consideration the working hours, salaries, equal remunerations, etc. before drafting policies about rights at work.

Article two of the constitution mentions the general conference of the representative member states is a permanent part of the ILO. Proceeding to this article three mentions the compulsion of holding an annual general conference. At the conference representatives of the member states come along with their advisors. Importantly, the representative group consists of two government personnel, one employer, and one employee delegate.

Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work

Note that the constitution of the ILO does not just specify the intention of promoting the social and economic growth of the workers. But also promotes the rights of women and migrant workers, puts a ban on child labor, and equal treatment at work irrespective of gender. Now, to achieve the fundamental rights of the workers ILO adopted a declaration in 1998 on fundamental principles and rights at work.

In addition to this declaration, the ILO has eight core conventions, each regarding the fundamental principles of labor rights.

What are Fundamental Rights at Work

According to the constitution of the ILO and the core conventions, the fundamental rights at work include

  • Freedom of association
  • Abolition of forced labor
  • Abolition of child labor
  • Equal remunerations
  • Right to organize and collective bargaining

What are Collective Bargaining and Labor Relations

collective bargaining is one of the rights at work
credit: Iris.com

Indeed all the other fundamental rights of laborers are self-explanatory except collective bargaining. This right derives its origin in the ILO constitution and in the 1998 Declaration. Collective bargaining means cutting a deal between employers and employees related to working hours and reciprocal remunerations. Irrespective of the nature of work the wages must be in accordance with the magnitude of burden. Also, it encompasses fair holidays, medical or health allowances, travel expenses, etc. too. Moreover, a good working environment is highly necessary.

On the other hand, labor relations include the formation of labor unions or labor rights councils. Such local organizations are necessary to protect the laborers’ rights at work if any exploitation arises. Furthermore, a productive and healthy working environment demands institutions like collective bargaining and labor unions.

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