ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations and C87 Art.23
IOE Submission of Comments (2017)
ILO International Labour Standards (ILS) are legal instruments, drawn up by the ILO constituents (governments, employers and workers), that set out basic principles and rights at work. They are either Conventions, which are legally-binding international treaties that may be ratified by ILO Member States, or Recommendations, which serve as non-binding guidelines. In many cases, a Convention lays down the basic principles to be implemented by ratifying countries, while a related Recommendation can also be autonomous (not linked to any Convention).
ILS are adopted at the International Labour Conference (ILC) and Member States are required to submit them to their competent authority (normally the parliament) for consideration. In the case of Conventions, this means consideration for ratification. Ratifying countries commit to applying the Convention in national law and practice and to reporting its application at regular intervals to the ILO regular supervisory system. Representation and complaint procedures can be initiated against countries for violations of a Convention they have ratified.
By the end of June 2018, the ILO had adopted 189 Conventions, 205 Recommendations and 6 Protocols covering a broad range of work issues. Areas covered by ILS include: basic human rights, occupational safety and health, wages, working time, employment policy and promotion, vocational guidance and training, skills development, specific categories of workers, labour administration and inspection, maternity protection and social security, indigenous and tribal people, and migrant workers.
The ILO Governing Body has identified the following eight Conventions as “fundamental”, covering subjects that are considered as fundamental principles and rights at work: Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87); Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98); Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29); Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105); Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138); Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182); Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100); and Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111).
The principles of these Conventions are also covered in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998). In 1995, the ILO launched a campaign to achieve universal ratification of these fundamental Conventions.
ILS are addressed to governments. Nevertheless, they are also relevant to business in the following ways:
Given the above, employers must play a key role in the ILO and at national level in formulating, implementing and supervising ILS, and in ensuring that due account is taken of the business perspective, including the needs of enterprises of all sizes operating in different geographical areas, economic sectors and social frameworks. Together with governments and workers, employers are responsible for making ILS and their implementation balanced, realistic and meaningful.
ILS are not the answer to every problem in the workplace and should only be used to address fundamental labour issues where they can have a high impact. ILS should only be adopted where unchanging principles are involved and where there is broad consensus among the ILO constituents that regulation at international level is necessary.
In the IOE’s view, ILS will lead to social and economic benefits only when they:
The beneficial effects of ILS depend to a large extent on a balanced application and the reasonable exercise of rights contained in them. The exercise of these rights has to respect the social and economic environment, the common good and the higher rights of other individuals and groups. In particular, the competitive needs of enterprises must receive adequate attention in the implementation of ILS since enterprises are the source of employment and, thus, the very place for the application of ILS.
Serving our membership of more than 150 national business organisations around the world, through the Employers’ Group at the ILO inter alia, the IOE: