ILO Centenary Celebrations in Lucknow

Address by Mr. Satoshi Sasaki, Deputy Director, ILO Country Office for India and Decent Work Team for South Asia at the ILO Centenary Celebration Workshop organised by Department of Labour, Government of Uttar Pradesh

Statement | New Delhi | 26 August 2019

Namaskaar/ Good Morning
On behalf of the ILO, I congratulate the Government of Uttar Pradesh for organizing this August event, to observe 100 years of the International Labour Organization. This is a special occasion, as the event is taking place in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous country subdivision in the world, that is home to aspirations of more than 200 million people in India.

ILO is the oldest among all United Nations Agencies. It came into being along with the League of Nations in 1919. Its founding was part of the “Peace Treaty of Versailles” that marked the end of First World War. 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the International Labour Organization. For 100 years, the ILO has advanced the cause of social justice by strengthening the bonds of mutual accountability between governments, employers and workers.

The ILO sets international labour standards, promotes rights at work and encourages decent employment opportunities, the enhancement of social protection and the strengthening of dialogue on work-related issues. The ILO's work affects all our lives, for example, the hours we work and rest, our safety and health at work, jobs and wages, as well as our pensions and overall working conditions among others.

The Centenary is an opportunity, not only to look back and celebrate the ILO’s history and achievements, but also to look forward to its future. The ILO Centenary is at a time of transformative change in the world of work; driven by technological innovations, demographic shifts, climate change and globalization. All these changes bring into question, the very nature and future of work, and the place and dignity of people in it.

The 108th International Labour Conference, held in Geneva in June this year, adopted a landmark ILO Centenary Declaration. It is focused on developing its human-centred approach to the future of work, but also reaffirms the 100-year-old constitutional mandate for social justice by the ILO.

India holds a significant place in the ILO, as it was a founding member of the ILO in 1919 and a permanent member of its Governing Body since 1923. As a founding member, India has had a special bond with the ILO. Many pioneers of the Indian labour movement built up lasting relationship with ILO. They led their delegations to ILO conferences and played a prominent role in shaping important international conventions for universal adoption.

Let me spend a few minutes on the ILO’s recent collaboration with the constituents in Uttar Pradesh:

During 2001-2010, the INDUS project, “Preventing and Eliminating Child Labour in Identified Hazardous Sectors in India” was implemented in 20 districts and four states including Uttar Pradesh. Our joint efforts brought together agencies to address child labour; including withdrawal of children from hazardous sector; Promoted the Convergence-based model for elimination and prevention of child labour through rigorous collaboration between the labour and education departments and other stakeholders, particularly the National Child Labour Project, employers’ and workers organizations’ in the States and Districts.

Later during 2011-2013, the ILO/MoLE joint project on Reducing Vulnerability to Bondage in India, operationalized in six states, including in UP, targeting seasonal migrants in the brick kiln sector, to reduce household vulnerability to bondage through an integrated approach to the promotion of Decent Work.

Since 2018, the ILO and UP Labour Department have been collaborating for the “Measurement, Awareness Raising, and Policy Engagement for accelerated action against Child Labour and Forced labour”, so called the MAP Project. The main objective of the MAP Project is to build and apply the critical knowledge needed for the policy choices to combat child labour and forced labour and in selected States including UP and in selected sectors.

We are also very encouraged by the collaboration of the UP Labour Department with the project “Towards fair and sustainable global supply chains: Promoting decent work for invisible workers in South Asia”. The project aims at empowering the most invisible workers in the garment and brassware/metal ware sectors in UP, in the districts of Bareilly and Moradabad. This initiative involves the tripartite partners – the UP Labour Department, Employers’ Associations and Trade Unions to come together to enable the rights and entitlements of the most vulnerable and hidden workers confined to micro home based enterprises. It also looks at strategies that can enable better sustainability of small and micro home based enterprises.

We remain committed to the State of Uttar Pradesh and look forward to our engagement on a range of thematic areas for promoting Decent Work in UP. In conclusion, let me say, a hundred years ago, who would have predicted the world in which we live today? A world where millions have been lifted out of poverty and where limitless information is available at the touch of a button. A world where billions of people have heard of human rights, and where the word ‘equality’ has new meaning for countless women and men around the world. But still yet, I must say that there is so much to be done if we are to achieve our dream.

I close my address with a quote from the ILO Director-General, Mr. Guy Ryder in his address in the ILC this year. He said: “The ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work is a roadmap, a compass to take us forward in the future of this Organization, because the future of work is the future of our Organization” Future of work is not given. We will create it. For the future of work we want, we the tripartite partners and the ILO, have to work together to put Decent Work in the centre of development.

Again, my heartfelt thanks to the State Government of UP for this opportunity today to reaffirm our cooperation and collaboration towards human-centred future of work that we want in UP.

Thank you very much for listening.