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India & ILO

IIndia is a founder member of the International Labour Organization, which came into existence in 1919. At present the ILO has 187 Members. A unique feature of the ILO is its tripartite character. The membership of the ILO ensures the growth of tripartite system in the Member countries. At every level in the Organization, Governments are associated with the two other social partners, namely the workers and employers. All the three groups are represented on almost all the deliberative organs of the ILO and share responsibility in conducting its work. The three organs of the ILO are:

  • International Labour Conferences: - General Assembly of the ILO – Meets every year in the month of June.
  • Governing Body: - Executive Council of the ILO. Meets three times in a year in the months of March, June and November.
  • International Labour Office: - A permanent secretariat.
  • The work of the Conference and the Governing Body is supplemented by Regional Conferences, Regional Advisory Committees, Industrial and Analogous Committees, Committee of Experts, Panels of Consultants, Special Conference and meetings, etc.


Except for the interruption caused by the Second World War, the International Labour Conference (ILC) has continued, since its first session in 1919 to meet at least once a year. The Conference, assisted by the Governing Body, adopts biennial programme and budget, adopts International Labour Standards in the form of Conventions and Recommendations and provides a forum for discussing social, economic and labour related issues. India has regularly and actively participated in the Conference through its tripartite delegations. The Conference has so far had 4 Indian Presidents viz., Sir. AtulChatterjee (1927), Shri Jagjivan Ram, Minister for Labour (1950), Dr.Nagendra Singh, President, International Court of Justice (1970) and Shri RavindraVerma, Minister of Labour and Parliamentary Affairs (1979). There have also been 8 Indian Vice Presidents of the International Labour Conference, 2 from the Government group, 3 from the Employers and 3 from the Workers’ Group. Indians have chaired the important Committees of the Conferences like Committee on Application of Standards, Selection Committee and Resolutions Committee.


The Governing Body of the ILO is the executive wing of the Organization. It is also tripartite in character. Since 1922 India has been holding a non-elective seat on the Governing Body as one of the 10 countries of chief industrial importance. Indian employers and workers’ representatives have been elected as Members of the Governing Body from time to time. Four Indians have so far been elected Chairmen of the Governing Body. They are Sir Atul Chatterjee (1932-33), Shri Shamal Dharee Lall, Secretary, Ministry of Labour (1948-49), Shri S.T. Merani, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Labour (1961-62) and Shri B.G. Deshmukh, Secretary, Ministry of Labour (1984-85). Earlier, the Governing Body of ILO functioned through its various Committees. India was a member of all six committees of the Governing Body viz.
(i) Programme, Planning & Administrative;
(ii) Freedom of Association;
(iii) Legal Issues and International Labour Standards;
(iv) Employment & Social Policy;
(v) Technical Cooperation and
(vi) Sectoral and Technical Meetings and Related issues.
Now the Governing Body of ILO functions through its various Sections and India takes part in all the proceedings of the Sections during the sessions of the Governing Body viz. Institutional Section (INS); Policy Development Section(POL);Legal Issues and International Labour Standards Section (LILS); Programme, Financial and Administrative Section(PFA);High-level Section(HL); and Working Party on the Functioning of the Governing Body and the International Labour Conference (WP/GBC)


The International Labour Office, Geneva provides the Secretariat for all Conferences and other meetings and is responsible for the day-to-day implementation of decisions taken by the Conference, Governing Body etc. Indians have held positions of importance in the International Labour Office.


The principal means of action in the ILO is the setting up the International Labour Standards in the form of Conventions and Recommendations. Conventions are international treaties and are instruments, which create legally binding obligations on the countries that ratify them. Recommendations are non-binding and set out guidelines orienting national policies and actions. The approach of India with regard to International Labour Standards has always been positive. The ILO instruments have provided guidelines and a useful framework for the evolution of legislative and administrative measures for the protection and advancement of the interest of labour. To that extent the influence of ILO Conventions as a standard of reference for labour legislation and practices in India, rather than as a legally binding norm, has been significant. Ratification of a Convention imposes legally binding obligations on the country concerned and, therefore, India has been careful in ratifying Conventions. It has always been the practice in India that we ratify a Convention when we are fully satisfied that our laws and practices are in conformity with the relevant ILO Convention. It is now considered that a better course of action is to proceed with progressive implementation of the standards, leave the formal ratification for consideration at a later stage when it becomes practicable. We have so far ratified 47 Conventions of the ILO and 1 protocol, which is much better than the position existing in many other countries. Even where for special reasons, India may not be in a position to ratify a Convention, India has generally voted in favour of the Conventions reserving its position as far as its future ratification is concerned.

Core Conventions of the ILO: - The eight Core Conventions of the ILO (also called fundamental/human rights conventions) are:

  • Forced Labour Convention (No. 29)
  • Abolition of Forced Labour Convention (No.105)
  • Equal Remuneration Convention (No.100)
  • Discrimination (Employment Occupation) Convention (No.111)
  • Minimum Age Convention (No.138)
  • Worst forms of Child Labour Convention (No.182)

(The above Six have been ratified by India)

  • Freedom of Association and Protection of Right to Organised Convention (No.87)
  • Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention (No.98)
  • C155 - Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155)
  • C187 - Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187)

(The above four conventions have not been ratified by India)

Chairmanship of the Governing Body of the ILO

After 35 years, India assumed the Chairmanship of the Governing Body of International Labour Organization, marking a new chapter in the 100 years of productive relationship between India and ILO. Shri Apurva Chandra, Secretary (Labour and Employment) was elected as the Chairperson of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for the period October 2020- June 2021. The Chairperson of the Governing Body of ILO is a position of international repute. The Governing Body (GB) is the apex executive body of the ILO which decides policies, programmes, agenda, budget and elects the Director-General.

Two of the above fundamental conventions viz,, Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No.155) and Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187) have been recently declared as Core Conventions in June 2022 by ILO.

Consequent to the World Summit for Social Development in 1995, the above-mentioned Conventions (Sl.No. 1,5,7 and 8) were categorised as the Fundamental Human Rights Conventions or Core Conventions by the ILO. Later on, Convention No.182 (Sl.No.6) was added to the list. As per the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up, each Member State of the ILO is expected to give effect to the principles contained in the Core Conventions of the ILO, irrespective of whether or not the Core Conventions have been ratified by them. Under the reporting procedure of the ILO, detailed reports are due from the member States that have ratified the priority Conventions and the Core Conventions every two years. Under the Follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, a report is to be made by each Member State every year on those Core Conventions that it has not yet ratified.

5. ILO Conventions Ratified by India

  • There are 47 ILO conventions and 1 protocol ratified by India. Out of 47 Convention and 1 protocol ratified by India, of which 39 are in force,5 Conventions and 0 Protocol have been denounced; 4 instruments abrogated.
  • List of International Labour Organisation Conventions Ratified by India

SL. No. No. and Title of Convention Date of ratification
1. No.1 Hours of Work (Industry) Convention, 1919 14.07.1921
2.* No.2 Unemployment Convention, 1919 14.07.1921
3. No.4 Night Work (Women) Convention, 1919 14.07.1921
4. No.5 Minimum Age (Industry) Convention, 1919 09.09.1955
5. No.6 Night Work of Young Persons (Industry) Convention, 1919 14.07.1921
6. No.11 Right of Association (Agriculture) Convention, 1921 11.05.1923
7. No.14 Weekly Rest (Industry) Convention, 1921 11.05.1923
8. No.15 Minimum Age (Trimmers and Stokers) Convention, 1921 20.11.1922
9. No.16 Medical Examination of Young Persons (Sea) Convention, 1921 20.11.1922
10. No.18 Workmen’s Compensation (Occupational Diseases) Convention, 1925 30.09.1927
11. No.19 Equality of Treatment (Accident Compensation) Convention, 1925 30.09.1927
12. No.21 Inspection of Emigrants Convention, 1926 14.01.1928
13. No.22 Seamen’s Articles of Agreement Convention, 1926 31.10.1932
14. No.26 Minimum Wage-Fixing Machinery, Convention, 1928 10.01.1955
15. No.27 Marking of Weight (Packages Transported by Vessels) Convention, 1929 07.09.1931
16. No.29 Forced Labour Convention, 1930 30.11.1954
17. No.32 Protection Against Accidents (Dockers) Convention (Revised), 1932 10.02.1947
18.@ No.41 Night Work (Women) Convention (Revised), 1934 22.11.1935
19. No.42 Workmen’s Compensation (Occupational Diseases) Convention (Revised), 1934 13.01.1964
20 No.45 Underground Work (Women) Convention, 1935 25.03.1938
21. No.80 Final Articles Revision Convention, 1946 17.11.1947
22. ** No.81 Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 07.04.1949
23. No.88 Employment Services Convention, 1948 24.06.1959
24. No.89 Night Work (Women) Convention (Revised), 1948 27.02.1950
25. No.90 Night Work of Young Persons (Industry) (Revised), 1948 27.02.1950
26. No.100 Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 25.09.1958
27. No.107 Indigenous and Tribal Population Convention, 1957 29.09.1958
28. No.111 Discrimination (Employment & Occupation) Convention, 1958 03.06.1960
29. No.116 Final Articles Revision Convention, 1961 21.06.1962
30.# No.118 Equality of Treatment (Social Security) Convention, 1962 19.08.1964
31.@@ No.123 Minimum Age (Underground Work) Convention, 1965 20.03.1975
32. No.115 Radiation Protection Convention, 1960 17.11.1975
33. No.141 Rural Workers’ Organisation Convention, 1975 18.08.1977
34. No.144 Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention, 1976 27.02.1978
35. No.136 Benzene Convention, 1971 11.06.1991
36.## No.160 Labour Statistics Convention, 1985 01.04.1992
37. No.147 Merchant Shipping (Minimum Standards), 1976 26.09.1996
38. No.122 Employment Policy Convention 1964 17.11.1998
39. No.105 Abolition of Forced Labour, 1957 18.05.2000
40. No.108 Seafarers' Identity Documents Convention, 1958 07.01.2005
41. No.174 Prevention of Major Industrial Accidents 06.06.2008
42. No. 142 Human Resources Development 25.3.2009
43. No. 127 Maximum Weight 26.3.2010
44. No.185 Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention (Revised), 2003 09-10-2015
45.@# Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC 2006) 09-10-2015
46. Minimum Age Convention (No.138) 13-06-2017
47. Worst Forms of Child labour Convention(No-182) 13-06-2017
Protocol 1 P89 Protocol of 1990 to the Night Work (Women) Convention (Revised), 1948
  • * Later denounced, The Convention requires, internal furnishing of statistics concerning unemployment every three months which is considered not practicable.
  • @ Convention denounced as a result of ratification of Convention No.89.
  • ** Excluding Part II.
  • # Branches (c) and (g) and Branches (a) to (c) and (i).
  • @@ Minimum Age initially specified was 16 years but was raised to 18 years in 1989.
  • ## Article 8 of Part – II.
  • @#In accordance with Standard A4.5 (2) and (10), the Government has specified the following branches of social security: maternity benefit; invalidity benefit and survivors’ benefit.