Author: Author: Mohini Chaturvedi, Sharda University
Decent work deals with the essential conditions required in the working lives of the population. It involves opportunities for work that is productive and ensures a fair income. It emphasizes on the security maintenance of the workplace, social protection for families, better future for personal development, and social integration. There must be equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men, where they can organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives.
DECENT WORK AGENDA UNDER ILO
The International Labor Organization (ILO), an international organization has developed an agenda in order to promote decent work for the population looking at job creation, rights at work, their social protection, and their treatment in a way of equality without gender biases. The aim of the ILO is to create opportunities for women and men to obtain decent work. In order to achieve fair globalization and poverty reduction, productive employment and decent work must be encouraged. The decent work agenda sets the four strategic objectives-
•job creation for the community
•rights at work
•social protection and
•social dialogue emphasizing gender equality
DECENT WORK AND THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
The significance of decent work and the four pillars of the Decent Work Agenda were also recognized during the UN General Assembly in September 2015, where the four strategic objectives became the integral essence of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The key area of engagement for the ILO and its constituents will be the promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, productive employment, and decent work according to Goal 8 of the 2030 Agenda.
RECOGNITION OF DECENT WORK IN INDIA
India became a permanent member of the ILO Governing Body in the year 1922. The Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) (2018-22) provides an opportunity to reaffirm the relevancy of decent work in India with that of social justice. India’s economy more than doubled, growing by 112 percent from the beginning of the first Decent Work Country Programme in 2007 to 2016. In purchasing power terms, India’s share in world GDP increased from an average of 4.8 percent during 2001-07 to 7.5 percent in 2017.
The DWCP (2018-22) for promoting the concept of Decent Work in India lays down the 5-year program strategy of ILO. The program strategy has been prepared by constituents through a consultative process. The findings of the Country Diagnostic Study (ILO 2017), the United Nations Sustainable Development Framework (UNSDF) 2018-2022, recommendation from the Country Programme Review (CPR) of the DWCP (2013-17) had been taken into the consideration for the consultative process.
The formulation of the third DWCP (2018- 22) for India is based on the outcome of the second DWCP (2013-17) for India, which consisted of four country priorities which are-
•International Labour Standards (ILS) and Rights at Work (FPRW) to be prioritized
•Policies especially for women, youth, and disadvantaged groups and job-rich and inclusive growth to be promoted
•National social protection and workplace compliance to be strengthened
•Labour administration, tripartism, and social dialogue at national and state levels to be promoted
The DWCP provides an opportunity for constituents to draw up a visibility plan on the outlined priorities and outcomes to promote ‘Decent Work for All’ in the country.
The Constitution of India provides for various provisions in the Fundamental Rights as well as in the Directive Principles of State Policy regarding employment and decent work. The State ensures equal pay for equal work and also ensures just and humane conditions of work. Under the Fundamental Rights, forced labor, exploitation, and employment of children in hazardous industries are strictly prohibited.
There are several laws that have been enacted to protect the interests of workers such as
● The Payment of Wages Act, 1936 [Amendment Act, 2017]
● The Minimum Wages Act 1948
● Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
● The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972
● The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
The Government of India had left no stone unturned to implement suitable schemes for different sections of unorganized workers who are basically provided with certain benefits of welfare schemes such as
(i) life and disability cover,
(ii) health and maternity benefits, and
(iii) old age protection.
PARLIAMENTARY INITIATIVES TOWARDS DECENT WORK
The Government enacted the Code on Wages Bill, 2019 that empowers the Government to introduce the minimum wages for workers and also to streamline the definition of the term ‘wages’. The Code also prohibits discrimination in an establishment or any unit of employment on the ground of gender among employees in matters relating to wages for the work done of a similar nature. The Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Condition Code had been introduced on 23 July 2019 in Lok Sabha to improvise the working conditions and safety of the employees. One of the provisions of the Code allows women to work beyond 7 PM and before 6 AM subject to the safety, working hours, or any other condition as prescribed by the appropriate government in establishments relating to factories, mines, plantations, and other construction units, but it is consensual upon women. The Consent taking provision from women will safeguard its misuse in any kind. It promotes gender equality and decent working conditions. The government initiatives are in alignment with ILO's principles of decent work which includes the recent amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act of 2017 which increased the paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for working women.
The worsening conditions of the workers in low-paid jobs, poor working conditions have caused great challenges leading to job losses. A formalized structure is needed to regulate the large informal economy. Every citizen of the country should attain decent work, as full and productive employment contributes towards the GDP growth of the country. The employment generation accelerates economic growth. The employment needs to be productive in character, sustainable, and providing decent work conditions. Much more progress is required for reducing informal employment, gender pay gap, and creating decent work for all by securing the working environment in the establishments or units.