The International Labour Organization was formed in 1919 as part of the League of Nations to protect worker’s rights. The ILO later became incorporated into the United Nations. The UN itself backed workers rights by incorporating several into two articles of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. These read:
Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of humandignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
The ILO and several other groups have sought international labor standards to create legal rights for workers across the world. Recent movements have also been made to encourage countries to promote labor rights at the international level through fair trade.
Core Labor Standards
Identified by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the ‘Declaration of the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work’, core labor standards are “widely recognized to be of particular importance”. They are universally applicable, regardless of whether the relevant conventions have been ratified, the level of development of a country or cultural values. These standards are composed of qualitative, not quantitative standards and don’t establish a particular level of working conditions, wages or health and safety standards. They are not intended to undermine the comparative advantage that developing countries may hold. Core labor standards are important human rights and are recognized in widely ratified human rights instruments including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC), the most widely ratified human rights treaty with 193 parties, and the ICCPR with 160 parties. The core labor standards are:
Freedom of association : workers are able to join trade unions that are independent of government and employer influence;
The right to collective bargaining : workers may negotiate with employers collectively, as opposed to individually;
The prohibition of all forms of forced labor : includes security from prison labor and slavery, and prevents workers from being forced to work under duress ;
elimination of the worst forms of child labor: implementing a minimum working age and certain working condition requirements for children;
non-discrimination in employment : equal pay for equal work.
Very few ILO member countries have ratified all of these conventions due to domestic constraints yet as these rights are also recognised in the UDHR, and form a part of customary international law they are committed to respect these rights. For a discussion on the incorporation of these core labor rights into the mechanisms of the World Trade Organization, see The Recognition of Labour Standards within the World Trade Organisation
posted today on IShallWrite by RoseVoc2
March 23, 2012