Protection of international minimum social and labor standards is one of the main activities of the International Labour Organisation. A minimum of two-thirds of the delegates present at the International Labour Conference voted in favor of the inclusion of these standards as Recommendations and Conventions.
It is the Conference that decides either to take these decisions as a Recommendation or a Convection. Therefore, for formulating and maintaining international minimum social and labour standards, Recommendations and Convections serve as handy tools.
It is the responsibility of the Conference to keep in mind those countries where the climatic condition and industrial development is not up to the mark or unique settings that influence the growth of the industrial organization are significantly distinct.
The conference must also advise required changes that must be made to address the matter of these countries while outlining the Recommendations and Conventions for general use. While framing the Conventions and
Recommendation, it must be ensured that the approval or acceptance of any of these must not influence any custom, award and laws that require additionally suitable conditions for the workers in comparison to those mentioned in it.
All the three parties i.e., workers, government and the workers together decide on the Recommendation and Conventions which is further accepted at the ILO’s annual International Labour Conference. After the standards are framed, the members states of the ILO need to present the standards to their respective authorities (generally the parliament) for further deliberation.
A Convention usually becomes a liability for the ratifying country after one year of its ratification. It becomes an obligation for the ratifying country to enforce the Convention in the national laws and rules and give notice of its implementation and progress to ILO at regular intervals.
Moreover, ILO can at take necessary actions against committed countries in case of abuse of Conventions have agreed upon.
Recommendations of ILO
In relation of minimum labour standards, recommendation of ILO serve as a rulebook for the member states on the subject issue under consideration. Recommendation is not a mechanism of compulsion for the member states.
It becomes mandatory for the member states to bring report of the Recommendations to the concerned authority within one year or one and a half year (in special conditions) of the conference session.
The member state has to present the recommendation to the concerned authority and they also have to report the governing body as asked, to discuss the effects of the steps they have taken or they will be taking to realise the provisions of the recommendation.
Except for the above mentioned compulsion, no other obligation rests on the member states. Unlike a Convention, the member state has the right to amend the Recommendations for the purpose of its execution or application.
Recommendation assists the conference in enforcing high standards, which is not possible in the case of the Convention. When the Conference feels that a certain proposal has not fulfilled its objective due to the unwillingness of the member states, it may present Recommendations to satisfy itself.
With the progress of standards and practice in the member states, the Recommendations (when accepted) might be converted into Conventions. Likewise, old Conventions can be amended and new Conventions with higher standards can be incorporated once the practices in the member states progress.
Conventions and Recommendations should not be discussed much on the grounds of their ability to impose compulsion. The Convention acts as a recommendation in those member countries where they are not imposed, moreover, it acts as a rulebook in developing social and labor policies.
Therefore in a general sense, an unfulfilled Convention is comparable to recommendation.
Conventions of ILO
As per the Constitution of ILO, the member states has to present the Recommendation to the concerned authority (under whose ambit the matter lies) within one year or one and a half year (in special condition) from the conclusion of the Conference session.
Hence, a Convention enforces compulsion on the member states once it is approved by the concerned authority. However, the member state has the right reserved, either to approve or disapprove the Convention.
If it gets approved by the authority it becomes a compulsion for the member state to enforce the Convention and also to convey the official approval of it to the head of the governing body.
After the approval of Convention, the member states has to enforce it without making any sort of changes in the provisions of the Convention (excluding the case where amendments are permitted).
In case of non-approval of the Convention, the member state is under the compulsion to regularly report the condition of rules and practices related to the agenda of the Convention representing the issues that hinder or suspend the approval of the Convention.
But even after a member state has approved the Convention, it does not becomes an obligation until it has been approved by certain number of member states. As per the conditions of the Convection in every case, the number of approval needed to enforce a Convection is fixed.
Fundamental Conventions of ILO
The eight fundamental conventions of the ILO (also called core conventions/human rights conventions), identified by Governing Body of ILO, are as follows:
1). Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29): It accepts compulsory military service and humane convict labour, denies forced compulsory labour in all of its forms.
2). Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105): It prohibits forced or compulsory labour for political or educational purposes or for punishment for political reasons, or for participation in a strike.
3). Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100): It calls for equal pay for men and women for equal work.
4). Discrimination (Employment Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111): It seeks national policies to prevent discrimination in the workplace.
5). Freedom of Association and Protection of Right to Organised Convention, 1948 (No. 87): It protects the rights of workers to organise and form beneficial labour associations without prior authorization.
6). Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98): It recognises the right of labour to engage in the collective bargaining process.
7). Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138): It seeks to abolish child labour, defined as an age not less than the final age of compulsory schooling.
8). Worst Forms of Child Labour Convection, 1999 (No. 182): It seeks to take immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency.
Governance Convections of ILO
Governing Body of ILO identified the following four governance convections:
1). Labour Inspection Convection, 1947 (No. 81): The functions of the system of labour inspection shall be to secure the enforcement of the legal provisions relating to conditions of work and the protection of workers while engaged in their work, such as provisions relating to hours, wages, safety, health, and welfare.
2). Employment Policy Convention, 1964 (No. 122): The said policy shall aim at ensuring that there is work for all who are available for and seeking work and such work is as productive as possible.
3). Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Convention, 1969 (No. 129): The functions of the system of labour inspection in agriculture shall be to secure the enforcement of the legal provisions relating to conditions of work and the protection of workers while engaged in their work.
4). Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention, 1976 (No. 144): The purpose of the procedures provided in this Convention shall be consultations on government replies to questionnaires concerning items on the agenda of the International Labour Conference and government comments on proposed texts to be discussed by the Conference.