100 Years of the International Labour Organization

In the year 1919, the International Labour Organization (ILO) was founded in the aftermath of World War I, as a part of the Treaty of Versailles to create objectives based on social justice foundations in order to establish universal standards for fair and reasonable working conditions for all employees around the world.

The early 20th century saw large-scale industrialization across many countries, with the prevalence of factory work, child labor, and frequent workplace accidents or deaths. The Treaty of Versailles dictated that workers should be entitled to fairer conditions that would be promoted via international labor legislation as well as through trade union rights, thus setting the stage for the ILO. Now, 100 years later, the ILO is still pursuing fair treatment of workers and continued support of human rights for all employees.

The ILO’s social justice foundation requires dialogue between employees and their organizations. Their tripartite model is based on the relationship and openness for communication between workers, their employers, and the governments of the nations in which they operate. While some countries have pursued social justice with great ambition, others have not been quite as eager. This has lead to increasing disparity between organizations within nations that have followed and embraced the policies of the ILO and those that have not done so.

Even after 100 years of existence and tremendous progress in many parts of the world, the ILO is still working towards justice for workers. We still see, even in 2019, cases of child labour, or unfit migrant working conditions in the news. This has been a constant struggle for many years as people struggling financially find themselves in situations that may be unsafe or degrading as a way to help support their families.

The ILO has created the concept of “Decent Work” or work that takes into account the self-respect, well-being and future development of the employee as a living human being. This has also led to the concept of meaningful economic development within countries.

It is important to note that the ILO has the global perspective and protection of employees in mind. Too many organizations operate with unjust business practices that benefit only their own nation while they are abusing the resources and people from other countries. The international labour standards have been created to work towards developing and improving the well being of all employees across the world, regardless of any distinguishing factors.

The ILO has been making strides recently with their efforts towards abolishing child labor, as well as supporting the rights and fair treatment of refugees, migrants and disadvantaged workers.

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where people are excited to voice their opinions on work related issues. Add in the availability and capabilities of the internet, and you now have a massive worldwide platform to share knowledge, experience and ideas with the rest of the developed world. This has been one of the many ways that the ILO has worked to increase the social protection of employees in developed nations. But what about those in underdeveloped regions that don’t have access to this kind of information, education and resources?

The ILO has worked tirelessly for 100 years to create a foundation to support and champion for workers of all walks of life to get fair treatment that is in alignment with the rest of their industry and based on their living requirements. Now it is time for developed nations to continue to champion the rights and justices that are due for all of the individuals that do not have the resources to speak for themselves on these global platforms. The ILO has achieved a lot in 100 years… what will they achieve in a hundred more?

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