Trade Unions for Social Justice

The project aims to promote International Labour Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and supports the trade unions’ campaign for the ratification of Core Labour Standards.


The ILO/ACTRAV Norway project “Trade Unions for Social Justice” promotes the International Labour Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and primarily supports the trade unions’ campaign for ratification of core labour standards in India. It is also striving to build and strengthen the trade unions capacities to enable them to tackle the labour market changes effectively.

Background and rationale

The ratification of ILO’s core labour standards and their effective promotion is crucial for inclusive growth and social justice.
India has ratified 45 ILO conventions including four core conventions so far. However, it is yet to ratify four fundamental conventions i.e. C. 87, Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention (1948), C. 98, Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention (1949), C. 138, Minimum Age Convention (1973), and C. 182, Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (1999). The ratification of these fundamental conventions will pave the way for promotion of decent work which in turn will facilitate the development of human capital- an essential ingredient for the overall growth and progress of a country. Further, this will also help improve the standard of living of those in the workforce and empower a large section of workers especially vulnerable groups of workers who require much-needed protection in the era of globalization.
The project is planned in the above context and its activities are implemented in line with priority 1 of the India’s Decent Work Country Programme 2013-2017.

Geographic coverage

The project is implemented pan- India. However, focused work is carried out through Joint Action Forums (JAFs) of Trade Unions in the states of Tamil Nadu, Assam, Andhra Pradesh/Telangana, Bihar, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

Target group

The project targets workers in various sectors of the economy through national trade union organizations (NTUOs) in India. There is specific focus on workers in the informal economy, women workers particularly vulnerable groups including domestic workers, self-employed workers, outsourced, casual, and unorganized workers etc.

Project strategy

The project works in collaboration with national trade union organizations in India at national and state levels. It engages trade union leadership and their rank and file at different levels to build quality engagement on the issue of ratification of Core Labour Standards (CLS) and in other areas of the world of work. By providing technical assistance, the project facilitates education and dialogue around labour standards and their relevance, impact and regulatory mechanisms, thus building impetus from the ground up towards CLS ratification. This is mainly done through capacity building programmes and advocacy campaigns which are organized in partnership with national trade unions. This results in building mass awareness on CLS ratification and engages a large number of workers and people in the campaign.

The project conducts various activities for different target groups to build capacity. At national level, trade union consultations and workshops are held to build consensus and streamline project activities across NTUOs for maximum impact. For vulnerable groups, youth and second line trade union leaders, training programmes on core labour standards are conducted in order to educate and create awareness and formulate further plans of action.
Advocacy programmes include various activities to increase public awareness and engage support for CLS ratification campaign. These include caravan campaigns, processions, mass meetings, signature campaigns and street corner meetings etc. among other activities. The project attempts to broaden the campaign by involving general public and use innovative methods to build momentum for these initiatives.


Significant gains have been made in building unification within the trade union movement in India. A joint trade union approach to all activities has led to the creation and formalisation of JAFs of trade unions in seven project states resulting in defending and securing workers’ rights effectively. This model is now being replicated at district and zone level within states as well.
Through capacity building the project has directly impacted over 300 trade unionists across seven states and its various advocacy activities on CLS ratification campaign has further reached out to over 500,000 workers from the formal and informal economy. A focus on gender and informal economy has engaged trade unionists in consultations towards mainstreaming gender issues in trade union activities and formulating trade union strategies for transitioning from the informal to formal economy.

Political will towards CLS ratification was strengthened by critically engaging political leaders, Members of Parliament, Member of Legislative Councils and State Labour Ministers in CLS ratification campaign in all the six states.

Key partners

In India, the project is implemented in close co-operation and collaboration with National Trade Union Organizations (NTUOs), namely

Joint Action Forums (JAF) were formed by NTUOs in seven states i.e. Tamil Nadu, Assam, Bihar, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and a combined JAF for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana through which project activities are being implemented and managed.

For further information please contact

Mr. Magnus Berge, Email
Specialist on Workers Activities,
ILO, DWT/CO-New Delhi

Mr. Rajendra Giri, Email
National Project Coordinator
ACTRAV/Norway Project
ILO, CO-New Delhi