As the only tripartite United Nations agency, the International Labor Organization is comprised of government, employer, and worker representatives. This unique agency composition and structure has been cited as both effective and equitable, helping to reconcile competing interests and raise labor standards worldwide. Surprising to some, the ILO commands a sizeable technical assistance budget to implement the its Decent Work Agenda – the main instrument to secure worker welfare across the world. Devex analyzed the ILO’s 2012-2013 biennium budget along the four key pillars of the Decent Work Agenda. Here is what we found:
With a budget of $200.79 million, the employment pillar is subdivided into specific components: employment promotion, skills development, and enterprise growth. As unemployment rate projections continue to be high, the ILO remains committed to assessing national government policies so it can align them with its own recommendations for job creation. Skills development, the second component of the employment pillar, focuses on publishing policy briefs and conducting trainings for the benefit of national employment agencies that aim to increase the employability of citizens.
Emphasizing the social dimension of work, ILO is allotting $131.28 million for the social protection pillar, which is subdivided into components that include social security, and occupational safety and health. The first component – social security – includes learning and knowledge-sharing activities with universities in different regions worldwide. The social development expertise of these educational institutions is vital to formulating labor policy recommendations that would expand the coverage of employment benefits to more workers. Occupational safety and health, the second component which focuses on the physical well-being of workers, includes activities such as publishing training manuals and organizing training events that target employers. Currently, the agency is implementing the Improving Safety and Health at Work through the Decent Work agenda to develop measures that would reduce cases of work-related accidents and diseases.
With a budget of $184.75 million, the social dialogue pillar best reflects ILO’s commitment to tripartism and seamless discourse among stakeholders. Activities under this pillar are focused on strengthening the interchange between employers, workers, and governments worldwide. The goal is to make sure that each of the three parties is properly organized and independent. ILO aims to enhance each of these groups’ membership and recruitment.
Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
Considered as the center of ILO’s mandate, the pillar for international labor standards and fundamental principles and rights has a budget of $131.27 million. Emphasizing the moral guidelines that regulate international labor, this pillar includes activities such as organizing conventions that promote workers’ freedom of association and collective bargaining, freedom against forced and child labor, and freedom against discrimination at the workplace. ILO gives special attention to the food processing, construction and maritime sectors because of their globalized nature. These are also fertile ground for domestic violence, human trafficking and maltreatment. Last June 7, 2012, the agency released the official paper titled “Tackling Child Labor: From Commitment to Action” which documents the progress of member states in reducing child labor.