On Friday, Shri Apurva Chandra, Secretary (L&E) completed his tenure as Chair of Governing Body of International Labour Organization after holding the position during the October 2020- June 2021. He has handed over the responsibility of the Chair to Ambassador Anna Jardfelt, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations Office in Geneva.
India has assumed the Chairmanship of the Governing Body of International Labour Organization after a gap of 35 years. During India’s Chairmanship, the sessions of the Governing Body held in October 2020 and March 2021 and the 109th session of the International Labour Conference held in June 2021 were conducted through virtual mode. All new and innovative procedures for conducting these meetings were developed during his tenure. Shri Apurva Chandra chaired both the Governing Body sessions, one virtually and the other in person at Geneva. Despite the adverse effects of COVID-19, all meetings of the Governing Body were held successfully.
Besides chairing the sessions of Governing Body, Shri Chandra has also shared India’s position on granting flexibility to member countries in ratifying ILO Conventions. It has been the experience of India that only some provisions come in the way for ratification of a Convention. Therefore, the grant of flexibility to member countries assumes significance as in the long term; it will pave way for harmonious employer-employee relations and will ensure the welfare of employees as well. During his tenure, Shri Chandra also stressed the need for signing Social Security Agreements. He suggested that the member countries should not only initiate dialogue for signing Social Security Agreements bilaterally but also efforts should be made through ILO to sign the Agreements between a few countries in a region. In forums such as BRICS and G-20, multilateral Social Security Agreements should be considered.
Further, India’s path-breaking reforms in providing social security to gig and platform workers were highlighted in the international forum, informing the member states about the steps taken by India in evolving the definitions of aggregators, gig, and platform workers and also establishing a financing mechanism to provide benefits to gig and platform workers through a Social Security Fund.
In his last address to the Governing Body, besides recommending flexibility for ratification of ILO Conventions and encouraging signing of Social Security Agreements, Shri Apurva Chandra also recommended the member countries to adopt labor standards of ILO in respect of work from home options keeping in view the emerging pandemic and increase in digital footprint at the workplace.