What is the ILO?

ILO stands for International Labor Organization , a body that creates labor protection rules by publishing international standards.

The ILO (or International Labor Organization – ILO) has existed since 1919, is an agency of the United Nations (UN) and is headquartered in the city of Geneva, Switzerland.

It was founded after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the peace document signed by the winning countries of the First World War.

The institution is made up of representatives of three types of entities: governments, workers ‘unions and employers’ unions. Currently, more than 180 countries join.

What are the objectives of the ILO?

In general, the organization’s objective is to protect the employment and rights of workers anywhere in the world. To this end, the ILO publishes Work Conventions and Recommendations on various topics.

Countries that are part of the Organization and ratify (approve) the documents must comply with the standards published by the body.

ILO protection areas

To achieve the objectives, the ILO works to protect labor in nine different areas:

  1. International labor standards: they are created to regulate procedures, protect rights and determine rules that must be followed in relation to the protection of workers.
  2. Decent work:ensuring that workers have safe and dignified environments so that they can live with dignity. The ILO considers that decent work respects the labor rights guaranteed by law, combats discrimination, forms of slave labor and the exploitation of child labor.
  3. Child labor: itis combated by the ILO, which considers it a violation of the rights of the child and human rights. According to the organization, the exploitation of child labor does not allow children to have access to education, a decent life and the opportunity for adequate and healthy growth.
  4. Domestic work:the ILO works to ensure that domestic workers have their rights guaranteed, such as registering the activity in the work card. The body’s objective is to make domestic work formalized in accordance with labor laws.
  5. Forced labor:forced labor is compared to slave labor and, according to the ILO, it is still a reality worldwide. The purpose of the measures is to combat slave labor and human trafficking for this type of illegal activity.
  6. Youth employment:creating measures to ensure that young people have access to good job opportunities and receive adequate training for the professions.
  7. Gender and race:in this area, the ILO creates policies to reduce inequalities at work, especially in relation to gender and ethnic inequalities. Among the main objectives is to guarantee the same job opportunities for all people.
  8. Future of work: in orderto project the best possible future for workers, the ILO creates measures to combat unemployment and informal jobs. The agency, looking to the future, also works to combat poverty and ensure better job opportunities for women.
  9. South-South and TriangularCooperation : in this cooperation, the ILO promotes the union and formation of partnerships between countries that are in development to stimulate the exchange of successful ideas and experiences.

ILO principles for labor protection

The ILO’s work follows four fundamental principles of labor protection:

  • end of exploitation of forced labor;
  • elimination of child labor;
  • an end to discrimination affecting employment relationships and professions;
  • freedom of association.

The ILO in Brazil

The International Labor Organization has had an office in Brazil since the 1950s and the country has already adopted more than 95 Conventions published by the agency.

In Brazil, the ILO has three main objectives:

  • encourage the creation of more jobs, with equality and dignity for Brazilian workers;
  • end the exploitation of child and slave labor,
  • encourage cooperation between workers, employers and the government.

ILO conventions valid in Brazil

Some protection Conventions published by the ILO and adopted by Brazil:

  • Compensation for work accidents in agriculture;
  • Rules for setting the minimum wage;
  • Prohibition of forced labor;
  • Night work by women in industries;
  • Equal pay for men and women;
  • Social Security Rules;
  • Maternity protection;
  • Protection of work in contact with radiation;
  • Elimination of child labor;
  • Well-being of maritime and port workers;
  • Minimum age for admission to work;
  • Protection of indigenous peoples;
  • Occupational safety and health;
  • Work safety in mines;
  • Protection for domestic workers.

Conventions and Recommendations published by the ILO

Conventions and Recommendations are the two types of standards created by the ILO.

The Conventions define rules to protect workers and their rights. For these rules to be valid in the countries, each must approve the document to be ratified by the responsible authorities.

After the document is ratified, the rules begin to take effect and governments must take the necessary measures to put them into practice. Conventions are mandatory , like a law.

Conversely , Recommendations are not mandatory. They are suggestions for approaches or possible solutions on a subject. They are often published to clarify or detail issues that have been decided in a Convention.


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