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The International Labour Organisation (ILO) was established as a social engineering project after World War I to protect workers’ rights and ensure that freedom, equity, and dignity in working conditions be widely preserved. Considering that it was created as a It is the earliest and first-oldest specialised agency of the UN, having been a part of the League of Nations. 187 of the United Nations’ 193 member states are currently ILO members.

The ILO’s fundamental goal is to increase opportunities for all men and women to obtain respectable, worthwhile jobs in environments that protect freedom, equity, security, and dignity. It is referred to as “Decent Work.” DW serves as the foundation for the ILO’s policies for economic and social improvement and is essential to efforts to eliminate poverty and achieve equitable, inclusive, and sustainable development.

Decent Work Country Programmes

The current ILO portfolio in India focuses on a variety of issues, including preventing family debt employment, skills development, green jobs, adding value to national programmes, micro- and small-business development, social security, HIV/AIDS, migration, industrial relations, managing the effects of globalisation, productivity, and competitiveness. The Decent Work Technical Support Team (DWT) for South Asia, based in New Delhi, provides technical assistance to member States in the subregion at the operational and policy levels through its team of experts.

Every ILO member state is obligated to submit a report describing the degree to which the principles set forth in the aforementioned treaties are being put into practise. The ILO will produce a report every year on one of the four groups of fundamental values and rights mentioned above. The data gathered and assessed using predetermined techniques will constitute the report’s foundation.Delhi provides member states in the subregion with technical support at the operational and policy levels.

The findings of the annual follow-up for member states that have not ratified the fundamental conventions will serve as the basis for the report. If a member country has ratified these treaties, the report will be treated in accordance with Article 22 of the ILO Constitution.

India on Ratified Conventions

India has always supported equality. Equal opportunity in terms of public employment is guaranteed by Article 16 of the Indian Constitution as a basic right. Additionally, Article 39 of the directive principles of state policy mandates that the state concentrate its efforts on ensuring that men and women receive equal pay for comparable work. The Indian legislature has occasionally tried to enact meaningful workplace equality. Examples of such initiatives include SC and ST laws, as well as laws addressing sexual harassment of women at work. the prevention of crime, etc. The Equal Remuneration Act of 1976 and the Equal Remuneration Rules of 1976 offer penalties if the compensation for men and women working at the same level is not equal. There are several further initiatives that support equal pay as a widely acknowledged standard.

The Bonded Labour System Abolition Act of 1976 and other laws and regulations in conformity with bonded labour treaties have been passed by India. There are five laws particularly addressing contract labour in India. The Supreme Court held in Neeraja Chaudhary v. State of M.P.4 that bonded labour legislation must aim to rehabilitate the bound employees in addition to ending the activity, as failure to do so would be a violation of Articles 21 and 23 of the Indian Constitution.

Influence of ILO In India

A dedicated UN agency, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), aims to enhance social justice and respectable labour conditions around the world. It has significantly influenced India’s labour and employment regulations since its formation. The following areas in India are significantly impacted by the ILO:

  • India’s labour laws and regulations have been influenced by the ILO. India has contributed to the development of the country’s labour laws as an ILO member and ratifier of numerous ILO accords. These contracts deal with the freedom to organise, collective bargaining, child labour, forced labour, non-discrimination, workplace health and safety, and others. The ILO’s recommendations and technical assistance have helped improve the labour laws and practises in India.
  • The ILO’s Decent Work Agenda, which prioritises the promotion of opportunities for employment that is productive, provides fair compensation, offers social assistance, and ensures rights at work, has had an impact on India’s labour policy. India embraced the Decent Work Agenda as a guiding principle in its National Employment Policy and implemented its principles into a number of labour and social welfare projects in order to enhance working conditions, promote job creation, and offer social protection for workers.
  • The ILO’s global campaign to end child labour has had a significant positive impact in India, but it remains a major societal issue. The ILO has provided India with technical help and guidance as it develops policies and activities aimed at ending child labour and rehabilitating impacted children.India has ratified the ILO’s agreements and guidelines on the topic. The ILO has helped India establish measures to combat child labour, including via education, social protection, and programmes to eliminate poverty.
  • India has benefited from the ILO’s capacity-building initiatives and technical assistance in a number of labour and employment-related fields, including information systems for the labour market, labour inspection, social security, occupational safety and health, and skill development. As a result, India’s institutional capacity to effectively enforce labour laws and policies, improve working conditions, and promote opportunities for decent employment for its workforce has been strengthened.

ILO’s advice, assistance, and advocacy in areas including labour standards and laws, decent work, social dialogue, the abolition of child labour, and capacity building have overall had a significant impact on India’s labour and employment policies. India’s labour laws and practises have included its ideas and suggestions, which has enhanced the working environment and social security for workers there.

The Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) is the framework within which the current work in India is carried out. In order to achieve the 2030 UN Agenda’s “Leaving no one behind and reaching the farthest behind first,” India’s DWCP for 2018 to 2022 aims to create a more decent future of work through higher-quality jobs, ensure the transition to formal employment, promote environmental sustainability, and support India’s progress in this direction.

Over the next five years, ILO India will focus its efforts on improving job prospects for rural women and youth, protecting migrant workers, promoting employment in fields that combat environmental and climatic change, and formalising India’s sizeable informal economy.

Challenges For ILO In India

1. Informal Economy: A large portion of the worker force in India works in unorganised or informal industries, contributing to the country’s sizeable informal economy. It can be challenging for the ILO to provide fair working practises, social security, and labour rights in India.

2. Child Labour: Despite efforts to stop it, India continues to have a substantial population of child labour, particularly in sectors like manufacturing, domestic work, and agriculture. When it comes to ending child employment and ensuring that all children have access to school, the ILO encounters significant challenges in India.

3. Gender Inequality: There are still numerous aspects of the Indian labour market where gender inequality and discrimination are present, such as wage inequalities, occupational segregation, and a lack of adequate protections.

4. Occupational Health and Safety: India has a high rate of occupational diseases and accidents at the workplace, particularly in risky areas like manufacturing, mining, and construction. While ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for all employees, it can be challenging for the ILO to promote effective occupational safety and health rules and enforcement in India.

5. Labour Law Reforms: India, which has a complex web of labour regulations, has been the subject of ongoing discussions and debates concerning labour law reforms in order to keep up with changing economic and social circumstances. Balancing the needs of employees and employers, dealing with concerns with informal labour, and ensuring that labour laws are properly applied are just a few of the challenges the ILO may face in India.


International labour standards have developed over the past 80 years into the foundation upon which national social and labour laws and policies have been established. Over the past ten years, they have evolved into resources for imaginable connectivity with the global exchange. India, an ILO founding member, has continuously backed the organisation and international norms. Its track record of approving performances does not adequately reflect its ongoing dedication to raising work standards.

Although more work needs to be done to establish a clear equivalent compensation strategy, global work principles have significantly aided in the establishment of the equal compensation standard in India. An Employees State Insurance component has also been formed to provide workers with security, and it must be updated explicitly in compliance with ILO Standards. The validity of ILO rules in India with reference to total bartering, limitations on restricted employment, demands for equitable compensation, and the ESI system are currently being investigated.


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May 2024