The International Labour Organization (ILO), which will mark its centenary in 2019, is a United Nations agency dealing with labour issues, particularly international labour standards, social protection, and work opportunities for all. The ILO has 187 member states: 186 of the 193 UN member states plus the Cook Islands are members of the ILO.
The International Labour Office is the permanent secretariat of the International Labour Organization. It is the focal point for International Labour Organization’s overall activities, which it prepares under the scrutiny of the Governing Body and under the leadership of the Director-General.
The Office employs some 2,700 officials from over 150 nations at its headquarters in Geneva, and in around 40 field offices around the world. Among these officials, 900 work in technical cooperation programmes and projects.
In 1969, the organization received the Nobel Peace Prize for improving fraternity and peace among nations, pursuing decent work and justice for workers, and providing technical assistance to other developing nations.
The International Labour Organization has developed a system of international labour standards aimed at promoting opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equity, security and dignity.
Through July 2011, the ILO had adopted 189 conventions. If these conventions are ratified by enough governments, they come in force. However, ILO conventions are considered international labour standards regardless of ratification. When a convention comes into force, it creates a legal obligation for ratifying nations to apply its provisions.
Every year the International Labour Conference’s Committee on the Application of Standards examines a number of alleged breaches of international labour standards. Governments are required to submit reports detailing their compliance with the obligations of the conventions they have ratified. Conventions that have not been ratified by member states have the same legal force as recommendations.
In 1998, the 86th International Labour Conference adopted the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
This declaration contains four fundamental policies;
• The right of workers to associate freely and bargain collectively
• The end of forced and compulsory labour
• The end of child labour
• The end of discrimination among workers
The ILO asserts that its members have an obligation to work towards fully respecting these principles, embodied in relevant ILO conventions. The ILO conventions which embody the fundamental principles have now been ratified by most member states.
The ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work , adopted in 1998, makes it clear that these rights are universal, and that they apply to all people in all States – regardless of the level of economic development. It particularly mentions groups with special needs, including the unemployed and migrant workers. It recognizes that economic growth alone is not enough to ensure equity, social progress and to eradicate poverty.
This commitment is supported by a Follow-up procedure. Member States that have not ratified one or more of the core Conventions are asked each year to report on the status of the relevant rights and principles within their borders, noting impediments to ratification, and areas where assistance may be required. These reports are reviewed by the Committee of Independent Expert Advisers. In turn, their observations are considered by the ILO’s Governing Body.
1. The right of workers to associate freely and bargain collectively
The 1998 ILO Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work affirms the importance of the effective recognition of the right to bargain collectively.
The fundamental Convention covering this right is the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98). The MNE Declaration provides detailed guidance on collective bargaining in its section on industrial relations (art. 49-56).
The right of workers to bargain freely with employers is an essential element in freedom of association. Collective bargaining is a voluntary process through which employers and workers discuss and negotiate their relations, in particular terms and conditions of work. It can involve employers directly, or as represented through their organizations; and trade unions or, in their absence, representatives freely designated by the workers.
Collective bargaining can only function effectively if it is conducted freely and in good faith by all parties. This implies:
• Making efforts to reach an agreement
• Carrying out genuine and constructive negotiations
• Avoiding unjustified delays
• Respecting the agreements concluded and applying them in good faith, and
• Giving sufficient time for the parties to discuss and settle collective disputes.
Bargaining in good faith aims at reaching mutually acceptable collective agreements. Where agreement is not reached, dispute settlement procedures ranging from conciliation through mediation to arbitration may be used.
The collective bargaining process also covers the phase before actual negotiations – information sharing, consultation, joint assessments – as well as the implementation of collective agreements.
2. The end of forced and compulsory labour
The prohibition of slavery, forced labour, institutions and practices similar to slavery and trafficking in persons are enshrined in international law, however debates about the relationship between these concepts – and how they should be translated into domestic law – have at times led to confusion about how best to tackle the enormous challenges posed by contemporary forms of forced labour or what is often called “modern forms of slavery”.
The elimination of compelled labour is a central tenet of international human rights law today, but the concept has gone through a long and fairly complex evolution, and the dimensions of the mandates of different international mechanisms addressing aspects of it are not always clearly defined. Thus, while there are now more widespread efforts to attack various aspects of the broader problem, the terminology may sometimes get in the way of clarity. A historical approach to the development of current concerns may make this clearer, but will also indicate that attempting to draw hard distinctions among the various related concepts is not always productive.
For instance, the case of Siliadin v. France (2005), in which a Togolese national having arrived in France in 1994 with the intention to study, was made to work instead as a domestic servant in a private household in Paris. Her passport was confiscated, and she worked without pay 15 hours a day, without a day off, for several years. The applicant complained about having been a domestic slave. In a useful distinction as to the meaning of these related concepts, the European Court of Human Rights found that the applicant had not been enslaved because her employers, although exercising control over her, had not had “a genuine right of legal ownership over her, thus reducing her to the status of an object”. It held, however, that the criminal law in force at the time had not protected her sufficiently, and that although the law had been changed subsequently, it had not been applicable to her situation. The Court concluded that the applicant had been held in servitude, in violation of Article 4 (prohibition of slavery, servitude, and forced or compulsory labour) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
3. The end of child labour
The principle of the effective abolition of child labour means ensuring that every girl and boy has the opportunity to develop physically and mentally to her or his full potential. Its aim is to stop all work by children that jeopardises their education and development. This does not mean stopping all work performed by children. International labour standards allow the distinction to be made between what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable forms of work for children at different ages and stages of development.
Children enjoy the same human rights accorded to all people. But, lacking the knowledge, experience or physical development of adults and the power to defend their own interests in an adult world, children also have distinct rights to protection by virtue of their age. One of these is protection from economic exploitation and from work that is dangerous to the health and morals of children or which hampers the child’s development.
The principle extends from formal employment to the informal economy where, indeed, the bulk of the unacceptable forms of child labour are to be found. It covers family-based enterprises, agricultural undertakings, domestic service and unpaid work carried out under various customary arrangements whereby children work in return for their keep.
To achieve the effective abolition of child labour, governments should fix and enforce a minimum age or ages at which children can enter into different kinds of work. Within limits, these ages may vary according to national social and economic circumstances. The general minimum age for admission to employment should not be less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling and never be less than 15 years. But developing countries may make certain exceptions to this, and a minimum age of 14 years may be applied where the economy and educational facilities are insufficiently developed. Sometimes, light work may be performed by children two years younger than the general minimum age.
Types of work now dubbed “the worst forms of child labour” are however totally unacceptable for all children under the age of 18 years, and their abolition is a matter for urgent and immediate action. These forms include such inhumane practices as slavery, trafficking, debt bondage and other forms of forced labour; prostitution and pornography; forced recruitment of children for military purposes; and the use of children for illicit activities such as the trafficking of drugs. Forms of dangerous work that can harm the health, safety or morals of children & subject to national determination, by government in consultation with workers’ and employers’ organisations.
In any effective strategy to abolish child labour, provision of relevant and accessible basic education is central. But education must be embedded in a whole range of other measures, aiming at combating the many factors, such as poverty, lack of awareness of children’s rights and inadequate systems of social protection that give rise to child labour and allow it to persist.
4. The end of unfair discrimination among workers
Hundreds of millions of people suffer from discrimination in the world of work. This not only violates a most basic human right, but has wider social and economic consequences. Discrimination stifles opportunities, wasting the human talent needed for economic progress, and accentuates social tensions and inequalities. Combating discrimination is an essential part of promoting decent work, and success on this front is felt well beyond the workplace. Issues linked to discrimination are present throughout the ILO’s sphere of work. By bolstering freedom of association, for example, the ILO seeks to prevent discrimination against trade union members and officials. Programmes to fight forced labour and child labour include helping girls and women trapped in prostitution or coercive domestic labour. Non-discrimination is a main principle in the ILO’s code of practice on HIV/AIDS and the world of work. ILO guidelines on labour law include provisions on discrimination, and in countries such as Namibia and South Africa, the ILO has provided advice on legislative change in this area.
Discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably than others because of characteristics that are not related to the person’s competencies or the inherent requirements of the job. All workers and job seekers have the right to be treated equally, regardless of any attributes other than their ability to do the job. Discrimination may occur before hiring, on the job or upon leaving.
Freedom from discrimination is a fundamental human right. It is essential for workers to be able to choose their employment freely, to develop their potential to the full and to be rewarded based on merit.
INFLUENCE BY THE ACCOUNTANTS IN RELATION THE ILO WORKPLACE RIGHTS.
The mission of the International Federation of Accountant (IFAC) is to strengthen the worldwide accountancy profession and contribute to the development of strong international economies by establishing and promoting high quality professional standards. Professional Accountants are required to follow the code of ethics and apply conceptual framework to identify the fundamental principles.
They play a very crucial role in any organisation and they simply work on figures and financial statements to provide a report on the status of the business, they analyse profits and losses for the business and to make healthy decision.
However there have been times, where these accountants fail to perform their role without integrity, professional due diligence and care and confidentiality. There professional behaviour in accordance to the code of ethics is simply not justifiable.
Accountant main focus in any organisation is to make money and minimise cost for the organisation. Therefore, in times and situation there have been situations where they have supported, child labour, they have supported compulsory and forced labour, have discriminated workers especially the women, and have put workers in the situation where they are not able to make a decision for themselves or their benefit.
According the Scandura in the year 1993, he elaborated that public accounting was a male dominated field. Later as the year went pass, women became educated and started to join the workforce and became accountants. Women then were discriminated due there gender and was often paid less compared to the men despite same qualification and the same job description. The Accountant were not happy to pay the Maternity leave and often gave excuse that women would not be able to multitask and handle the work and household responsibility. Many women are choosing to leave because they have no other choice possibly due to discrimination, biological roles and general lack of advancement in the organization. The public accounting profession, but mostly the CPA firms themselves, needs to try to become even more supportive of the female CPA. There are organizations that are being put into place that provide programs and services that are designed to help women achieve upper level management positions and leadership positions during their career (AICPA, 2017).
Accountant’s behaviour towards the child labour, forced and compulsory labour and not providing free collective bargaining for the workers, all are being encouraged because since accountants work on figures and have the responsibility to minimise cost. They would hire child labour since they would not have to pay the wages and could have the productivity to continue and make profits when compared to paying the seniors with experience. An example of this would using child labour to make soccer balls. Soccer Balls usually are symbol of our children’s childhood. They start to play and pay attention to all sorts of games out soccer balls and this not the just the boys but young girls as well. However, in some countries, they are being made by children, who are forced to work and due to this responsibility on their young shoulder, their lives are snatched away from them.
Moreover, similar situation applies to forced labour. This type of pressure arises on the seasonal workers or the foreigners who need to work to survive in an unknown country. They are paid less and sometimes not paid the full hours of work. Companies who hire them do not wish to pay them the overtime, meal or travelling allowances.
The end of forced and compulsory labour
• The end of child labour
• The end of discrimination among workers
As these conclusions show, the ILO is able to inject an essential impetus to the drive for an integrated approach to sustainable development because it is in workplaces that the social, economic and environmental dimensions come together inseparably. Furthermore, to ensure the progress of the Decent Work Agenda, it is necessary to situate it more clearly in a framework of sustainable development. The conclusions, arrived at through tripartite discussion, provide guidance on what is meant by an environment conducive to sustainable enterprises, on responsible and sustainable enterprise-level practices and on the roles of the Office and constituents in working towards making real the goal of sustainable development through the promotion of sustainable enterprises.
In addressing the challenges of sustainable enterprise promotion, it is important to recall instruments which guide the ILO’s wider Decent Work Agenda. The ILO Constitution, including the Declaration of Philadelphia, as well as the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up, 1998, emphasize that economic and social policies are essential and mutually reinforcing components in order to create broad-based sustainable development and promote social justice. The ILO’s Global Employment Agenda adopted by the ILO’s Governing Body provides a set of policies, including enterprise development policies, aimed at achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Furthermore, within the parameters of the programme and budget, the Office should build its knowledge base on emerging issues (for example, through research in such areas as the link between sustainability, impact of climate change on enterprises and employment), facilitate the sharing of knowledge and practice across countries (through, for example, web sites and databases on such subjects as collective agreements and industrial relations and the enabling environment for sustainable enterprises) and strengthen its technical cooperation programmes