ILO calls for strengthening labour inspection worldwide

The International Labour Office (ILO) proposed a new series of measures
designed to "reinvigorate", modernize and strengthen labour inspectorates
worldwide, in a move to boost the implementation of labour laws on the working
conditions that protect the rights of millions of workers worldwide.

The ILO stresses that good governance of workplaces is central to the promotion
of sustainable economic development.

The new initiatives on labour inspection were welcomed by both worker and
employer representatives at the ILO's 297th Governing Body meeting here as a
means of improving competitiveness, economic growth and job creation. The new
measures will contribute to preventing some of the 2.2 million annual fatal
occupational accidents and the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS each year.
Effective systems for labour inspection are also vital in the struggle to
eliminate child labour, forced labour and discrimination in the workplace.

In the face of mounting challenges to the worldwide force of national labour
inspectors, which at an estimated 120,000 is stretched thin across global
workplaces, the ILO's Governing Body Committee on Employment and Social Policy
proposed the new measures aimed at improving both quantity and quality of
labour inspections. The moves will contribute to achieving the ILO's "Decent
Work Agenda".

Measures suggested in the package to "reinvigorate" inspection services
included tripartite labour inspection audits to help governments identify and
remedy weaknesses in labour inspection, the development of ethical and
professional codes of conduct, labour inspection fact sheets, global inspection
principles, and hands-on tools for risk assessment, occupational safety and
health management systems and targeted training for inspectors.

An Integrated Labour Inspection Training System (ILITS) was also endorsed to
help strengthen labour inspection by coordinating administrative, procedural
and technical elements from the global policy level down to the operational
level in the enterprise where the quantity and quality of inspections can be
significantly improved.

In many countries the numbers of workers in relation to labour inspectors
exceed the benchmarks used by the ILO, says the report. The ILO is concerned if
the relation exceeds one inspector per 10,000 workers in industrial market
economies; one inspector per 20,000 workers in transition economies; and one
inspector per 40,000 workers in less developed countries.

The ILO report says many countries are missing these benchmarks, and that there
are enormous differences between countries at all levels of development. The
ratios between active population and inspectors range from one inspector per
5,500 active workers in Malaysia, 8,300 workers in Latvia, to one to 45,000 in
Burkina Faso, to one to 370,000 in Cambodia and one to 3,200,000 in Bangladesh.

According to the report, resources for labour inspection have been squeezed in
many countries as a part of budget austerity measures. This, despite the fact
that the Governing Body Committee on Employment and Social Policy found that an
efficient and adequately resourced labour inspection system makes a significant
contribution to economic development, social cohesion and good governance.

Labour inspection reforms underway

Several countries have, nevertheless recently moved to reinvigorate labour
inspection, the report says. Brazil recruited 150 new inspectors to tackle
forced labour in 2004, Turkey has trained 108 inspectors to fight child labour,
and Greece has conducted training for 81 newly recruited inspectors. Spain has
increased the number of inspectors from 1,500 to almost 2,000 over the last
three years, while Latvia intends to recruit 39 new inspectors after January

Following the killing of two labour inspectors in France in 2005, the
government just launched the new "Plan Larcher", to tackle the organisational
crisis in labour inspection. This includes structural and organizational
reforms, improving the quality of inspections and the recruitment of 700 new
inspectors by 2010.

With 135 ratifications, ILO Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 (No.81) on
labour inspection in industry and commerce is one of the ten most ratified ILO
conventions to date and serves as a good international guide to secure the
enforcement of the legal provisions relating to conditions of work and the
protection of workers. The measures decided by the ILO Governing Body build on
a survey of the application of the ILO's labour inspection standards at the
June 2006 International Labour Conference.

Labour inspection is part of countries' overall labour administration system,
the quality of which according to the report is vital to the effectiveness of a
labour inspectorate. The ILO Labour Administration Convention, 1978 (No.150),
and its accompanying Recommendation (No.158) set out the overall duties of a
labour administration as including labour inspection.

More information

AplusA-online.de - Source: International Labour Office (ILO)