Friday, August 7, 2009

India and the ILO

India is a founder member of the International Labour Organization, which came into existence in 1919. At present the ILO has 175 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 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. Atul Chatterjee (1927), Shri Jagjivan Ram, Minister for Labour (1950), Dr. Nagendra Singh, President, International Court of Justice (1970) and Shri Ravindra Verma, 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 Indian 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 Chairman 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).

The Governing Body of ILO functions through its various Committees. India is 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.


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. Special mention must be made of Shri S.K. Jain who retired as Deputy Director General of the ILO. Shri Gopinath is currently the Director International Institute of Labour Studies, Geneva.

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