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International Labour Organization

International Labour Organization (ILO) is an agency of United Nations based in

Geneva which plays an immense role in our industrial relations and labour law. ILO
sets out internationally recognized labour standards to protect the rights of workers
globally and it’s main purpose is to find solutions to improve employment conditions
everywhere. As per the year 2019, ILO has over 187 state members including
Malaysia which has been a member of it since 1957 and branch offices in more than
40 countries. ILO emerged right after the First World War as part of the league of
nations in the year 1919.
ILO is a tripartite organization consisting of primarily three parties which are
workers, employers and governments. In Malaysia, tripartite discussions are made
involving employers, unions and the government similar to ILO where they sit
together and agree on what laws or amendments of the law which is necessary. The
machinery for this discussion is the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC). The
ILO has four principal strategic objectives which are”To promote and realize
standards, and fundamental principles and right at work”, “To create greater
opportunities for women and men to secure decent employment, “To enhance the
coverage and effectiveness of social protection for all”, and “To strengthen tripartism
and social dialogue”.
Throughout the years, there were several major policies and programme initiated
by ILO. For instance, the “Declaration of Philadelphia” was made in the year 1944
which redefined the aim and purpose of the ILO by adopting the following principles
such as “labour is not a commodity”, “freedom of expression and of association are
essential to sustained progress” and “poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to
prosperity everywhere. Apart from that, ILO has also adopted several conventions and
recommendations covering practically all issues relating to the world of work such as
child labour, gender equality in workplace, and workplace condition.
When it comes to child labour, it is estimated that around 250 children
worldwide are forced to work and were deprived from basic necessities as well as
freedom such as right to education and good health. Ending child labour is a primary
goal of ILO thus several notable steps have been taken to curb this issue. For instance,
the implementation of “ILO Minimum Age Convention” in the year 1973 which
contains the principle of the effective abolition of child labour and the “International
Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC)” which currently manages
over 1000 programme worldwide promoting alternatives to child labour. Malaysia
implemented this principle by having their own legislation and law to govern child
labour such as Children and Young Persons (Employment) Act 1966.
When it comes the gender equality in the workplace, it is among the key element
of ILO’s agenda of decent work for all women and men. Throughout the history, there
were many discrimination faced by the workers especially women where they weren’t
given equal pay compared to their counterpart and it is still happening in many
workplace today,especially in third world countries. In order to curb this issue, ILO
came up with Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) which is an initiative driven
by stakeholders committed to reduce the gender pay gap and make equal pay for work
of equal value. Malaysia have ratified the ILO’s convention on equal remuneration in
the year 1997 to tackle this issue. Malaysia also has National Wages Consultative
Council Act 2011 which states that every employee is eligible to get minimum wage
without taking into account their gender.
When it comes to workplace condition, forced labour has been a major threat
especially to migrants and trafficked humans since they were often placed in harsh
conditions to work and they were forced to work beyond working hours. Malaysia is
among the country which denounced one of the core conventions of ILO it had
ratified which is the abolition of forced labour. Forced labour is criminalized in
Malaysia under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants Act
In conclusion, it is undeniable that ILO is putting immense efforts to create a
sustainable working conditions and careers for the employees around the world. ILO
have also been conducting and promoting researches and training centers to assist
employers and employees globally. Malaysia’s participation in ratifying ILO’s
conventions and implementing their principles in legislating laws relating to labour
has shown some positive impacts throughout the years and more needed to be done to
improve the economics as well as protect the rights of employee overall.