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ARTICLE REVIEW

Impact of ILO conventions on Labor Laws in India

Submitted to Dr. P. N. Shukla Instructor (Labour Legislations)

Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management New Delhi

Submitted by: Abhinav Prakash (32) Divya Khurana (108) Nishit Lal (12) Parul Bhargava (38) Shilpi Suman (54) Uzma N Siddiqui (30)

Labour Legislations, LBSIM

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each Member State of the ILO is expected to give effect to the principles contained in the Core Conventions of the ILO. which create legally binding obligations on the countries that ratify them. f. It recognizes this evil system as a gross infringement of the fundamental Human Rights of the affected citizens and is implacably committed to its total eradication in the shortest possible time. such as military service. convict labour properly supervised. Core Conventions of the ILO: They include the eight Core Conventions (also called fundamental/human rights conventions) out of which India has ratified 4 conventions which may be stated as under: • Forced Labor Convention (No. Certain exceptions are permitted. As per the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up. The Government of India has consistently maintained a proactive approach to the issue of forced or bonded labour in the country. Labour Legislations. e. the bonded labour system was abolished by law throughout the country w. LBSIM Page 2 . India was the founding member of ILO. irrespective of whether or not the Core Conventions have been ratified by them. emergencies such as wars. with an aim to improve the conditions of labors around the world. etc.Impact of ILO conventions on Labor Laws in India ILO: Raison d’etre and functioning The International Labor Organization (ILO) was set up in the year 1919. Recommendations are non-binding and set out guidelines orienting national policies and actions. 25th October 1975 by an Ordinance. which has now expanded its membership to 145 nations. 29): It requires the suppression of forced or compulsory labour in all its forms. and the preservation of their rights. fires. earthquakes. Conventions are international treaties and are instruments. ILO through its conventions and recommendations helps nations to draw their own set of labor laws for the better treatment of the working class. Following the ratification. The principal means of action in the ILO is the setting up the International Labor Standards in the form of Conventions and Recommendations.

135 countries had ratified this convention. workforce mobilization.105) – It prohibits the use of any form of forced or compulsory labour as a means of political coercion or education.The Act also lays down stringent penal provisions against offending employers. punishment for participation in strikes. The penalties include imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years and also with fine which may extend to Rs. • Equal Remuneration Convention (No. on grounds of race. religion.138) Worst forms of Child Labor Convention (No. labour discipline. training and working conditions. color. LBSIM Page 3 . or discrimination. • Discrimination (Employment Occupation) Convention (No. political opinion. national extraction or social origin and to promote equality of opportunity and treatment. sex.111) - It calls for a national policy to eliminate discrimination in access to employment. The following four conventions are yet to be ratified by India: • • • • Freedom of Association and Protection of Right to Organized Convention (No.2000/- • Abolition of Forced Labor Convention (No.182) Labour Legislations.87) Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention (No. punishment for the expression of political or ideological views. In December 1997.100) – It calls for equal pay for men and women for work of equal value.98) Minimum Age Convention (No.

87 provides for the right of workers and employers. Central Administrative Tribunal etc. The Government has promoted and implemented the principles and rights envisaged under these two Conventions in India and the workers are exercising these rights in a free and fare democratic society. LBSIM Page 4 . Convention No. to whom special rules and regulations may apply. Hence. there is no omnibus provision in our labour laws prohibiting children below certain age from doing any work whatsoever.138 As of now.87 and 98 Convention No. Their organizations have the right to form or join federations and confederations. without any distinction to establish and join organizations of their own choosing without previous authorisation. These organizations or federations may not be liable to arbitrary dissolution or suspension by an administrative authority. Freedom of expression. The only exceptions provided for in the Convention to the right to organise “without distinction whatsoever” are the armed forces and the police.138. The guarantees provided for under these two Conventions are by and large available to workers in India by means of constitutional provisions. Our Constitution guarantees job security. laws and regulations and practices.98 aims to protect the exercise of the right to organise and to promote voluntary collective bargaining. Convention No. The main reason for our not ratifying these two Conventions is the inability of the Government to promote unionisation of the Government servants in a highly politicised trade union system of the country. including on the international level. They have also been provided with alternative grievance redress mechanisms like Joint Consultative Machinery.REASONS FOR NON-RATIFICATION Conventions No. social security and fair working conditions and fair wages to the Government servants. freedom of association and functional democracy are guaranteed by our Constitution. For ratifying Convention No. our stand has been that this section of the workforce cannot be said to have been deprived of the right of association. enactment of a suitable all encompassing Central Legislation for minimum age of entry to employment would need to be enacted to have provisions for: Labour Legislations.

182 Ratification of Convention No. Thus. and (b) Fixing a minimum age of not less than 18 years for admission to any type of employment or work which by its nature or circumstances in which it is carried out is likely to jeopardise the health. 1986 and through the National Policy on Child Labor. In two Labour Legislations. Effect of ILO on Child Labor Legislations in India: ILO’s interest in child labor. consultations have been held with the concerned Ministries/Departments and State Governments to examine the existing provisions of national laws and practices on the subject vis-à-vis the provisions of the Convention. Convention No. LBSIM Page 5 . cottage and small-scale industries etc. 1986 etc. In the background of the above position. Since there is no omnibus law on minimum age for entry into employment and the existing laws prescribe different minimum ages for different sectors. the Bill on the above lines on its enactment was to replace or super cede the concerned existing legislations like the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act. Fixing of minimum age for admission to employment needs to be preceded by creation of suitable enforcement machinery and measures as would warrant the children not being compelled by circumstances to seek employment. This is also to be discussed in a tripartite forum with the participation of the Employers and Workers Representatives. ILO has funded the preparation of certain local and industry specific projects.(a) fixing a minimum age of 14 years for admission to employment or work in all occupations. the process is likely to be long drawn. for the unorganised sector in agriculture. The setting up of such machinery. employment and work but excluding agriculture in family and small holdings producing for own consumptions and not regularly employing hired workers.. India is examining the feasibility of ratifying this convention in consultation with the concerned Central Ministries and State Governments. (except for those industries which are covered under the Factories Act) becomes a difficult task in a developing country like India. It has adopted a number of Conventions and Recommendations in this regard. within a framework of the Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulations) Act. particularly. The definition of ‘child’ in all concerned existing legislations would then need to be determined in accordance with the provisions of the Central Legislation on minimum age for admission to employment. The ILO has also initiated a concerted campaign for this purpose. safety or morals of young persons. In India.182 concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour is being pursued by the ILO with all member countries. young persons and their problems is well known.

Labour Legislations. the Factories Act (1881). LBSIM Page 6 . Trade Unions Act (1926). inter alia. health and hygiene of the workers and special provision for women and juvenile workers. Trade Disputes Act (1929). The implementation of IPEC programmes in India has certainly created a very positive impact towards understanding the problem of child labor and in highlighting the need to elimination child labor as expeditiously as possible. this Act was amended and thereafter repealed. resulting in a gradual migration of the labor force from rural areas to mills and factories located primarily in urban areas. After the International Labor Organization (ILO) was formed in 1919. Maternity Benefit Act (1939). Workmen’s Compensation Act (1923). including the seasonal ones. Similarly. many labour laws came into existence following the guidelines and framework provided by ILO. the work hours were too long. It also prohibits child labor. Payment of Wages Act (1936). It contained provisions even for hours of work of women and workers including that of minimum age for employment of children. and the workers’ employment conditions were unsatisfactory. It limits work of a child in factories. the ILO is playing a vital role. The situation led to the enactment of a number of legislations beginning from the year 1881.projects. At that time. viz. It makes provision for safety. The effect of ILO on Labor legislation in India: With the growth and expansion of factories and industries in the subcontinent beginning in the mid-nineteenth century. the employers were less concerned about the needs of their employees. and the Employment of Children Act The Factories Act 1881 is the basis of all labor and industrial laws of the country. Child Labor Action and Support Programmes (CLASP) and International Programme on Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC). new avenues for employment were created. These include. wages much below the subsistence level. A major contribution of the IPEC programme in India is that it has generated a critical consciousness among all the 3 social partners for taking corrective measures to eliminate child labor. in the absence of any state control or organization of the workers. resulting in the promulgation of the Factories Act 1934.

In India. India has generally voted in favor of the Conventions reserving its position as far as its future ratification is concerned. Even where for special reasons. a Convention is ratified only when there is a complete inspection that the existing laws and practices are in conformity with the relevant ILO Convention. Hence ILO has been playing a vital role in national reconstruction. which is much better than the position obtaining in many other countries. through the various amendments and enactments. Labor class is indeed one of the classes most vulnerable to exploitation if not the most. LBSIM Page 7 . The positive influence of ILO is seen in form of recognition of many new kinds of rights that were erstwhile not available to the labor class. Although most of the pre – constitutional legislations have been repealed or curtailed following the Doctrine of Eclipse and Doctrine of Severability. India may not be in a position to ratify a Convention. The concept of Fundamental Rights was introduced the Constitution. By observing the passage of Labor Legislations in India. So far India has ratified 43 Conventions and 1 Protocol of the ILO. 1881. Ratification of a Convention imposes legally binding obligations on the country concerned and. However with the passage of time it is now considered that a better course of action is to proceed with progressive implementation of the standards. India has been careful in ratifying Conventions. as the guidelines issued by the ILO were formed the principles on which these legislations were drawn. Many new laws were enacted to incorporate the guidelines of the conventions of the ILO that were ratified by India. but were made available post the creation of ILO. not a lot of changes have had to be made to the labor laws that were well passed before the Constitution. rather than as a legally binding norm. All these amended and enacted legislations make provisions for the general welfare and protection of interest of the labors in India. therefore.Conclusion The approach of India with regard to International Labor Standards has always been positive. To that extent the influence of ILO Conventions as a standard for reference for labor legislation and practices in India. has been significant. Labour Legislations. it is evident that the ILO did have a great impact on the Labor Laws in India. The success of these labor legislations must be attributed to the ILO. leaving the formal ratification for consideration at a later stage when it becomes practicable. Most of the labor legislations in India are pre – constitutional. and the slow and steady progress is a testimony to show the primacy and centrality attached to this subject at the national level. The ILO instruments have provided guidelines and useful framework for the evolution of legislative and administrative measures for the protection and advancement of the interest of labor. The setting up of ILO also saw the amendment of Factories Act.