Decent work

Guy Ryder, Director-General ILO, meets Honourable Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Bandaru Dattatreya

ILO and the Ministry of Labour and Employment discuss India’s increasingly critical role in the global economy and what the future of work looks like from an Indian perspective.

News | 07 July 2016
New Delhi (ILO NEWS): Shankar Aggarwal, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment started the meeting by congratulating ILO on a very productive meeting with the Honourable Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi. He spoke of the strong convergence of priorities between ILO, and the Indian government.

Bandaru Dattatreya, Minister Labour and Employment said that India’s role on the global stage has become even more critical. It is the fastest growing economy in the world with 7.6 percent growth rate. He said India understands that this growth has to be inclusive and equitable. Aggarwal also spoke on the various flagship programmes of the Indian government such as Skill India, Digital India and Make in India. These initiatives, he said, have come about to address the rapidly changing world of work.

Talking about informality in the workforce, Dattatreya said that nearly 93 percent of Indian labour force is still working in the informal sector. This is a huge challenge. The central government has taken this challenge into account and formalized a separate skills ministry to bridge the skill-gap and also look at ways to generate meaningful and decent employment to the workers engaged in the informal economy.

The minister spoke of his recent visit to the fifth International Labour conference and said, “Tackling the issue of decent work in global supply chains is a tricky terrain. Solutions can’t happen overnight. India especially has to be very mindful in its approach when it comes to bringing new policies. They have to be in line with the legislative framework of the country and also in coherence with the international labour standards”.

Dattatreya spoke about ILO’s future of work initiative and how India can be the game-changer. He said that India has today sped ahead of China in terms of its growth yet it faces complex challenges. “Labour market institutions in emerging economies work differently due to the quintessential socio-political forces. ILO needs to take this into cognizance. It needs to nurture an out-of-the-box thinking when addressing issues in emerging economies, especially India”.

Talking about labour reforms, the minister spoke of the need for rationalizing and simplifying labour laws. The ministry has already turned 44 labour laws into four easy to comprehend codes. These are code on working conditions and safety, on social security, on wages and on industrial relations.

Ryder said that the ILO recognizes India’s needs and that it is fully supportive of it. He considers India an important player in the global arena. India has had many significant changes in its labour market and has a young demographic. India in fact can be deciding the future of work. Ryder also spoke of the very high ambitions set by the Indian government in the world of work and how it has been delivering on it in a systematic and dedicated manner.

A strong priority of the ILO is that decent work produces inclusive growth and that it addresses poverty challenges. In the budget session of India there has been talks of formalizing the informal economy. Recommendation 204 of ILO can provide a helpful framework to India to tackle the complex issue of informality.” Ryder also stressed on the fact that India needs to ratify the two pending conventions on child labour – convention 138 and 182. He said he is hopeful that these will come through after the amendments to the bill is finalized.

Lastly he said, “Our organization can be a good ally as we bring expertise and experiences from other countries. It is heartening to know that Indian government and the ILO share a common vision regarding the world of work.”