The International Labour Organization (ILO), a United Nations specialised agency with 187 member states, establishes and monitors international labour standards as laid out in numerous treaties adopted under its supervision. The complaints procedure and the representation procedure are two grievance methods provided by the ILO Constitution for stating that a Member State is not meeting its commitments under a certain ILO agreement.
Complaints against a Member State may be considered by another Member State of the same convention, a delegate to the International Labour Conference (of Member States), or the ILO Governing Body under the complaints procedure. The claim may be investigated by a Commission of Inquiry. Employers and labour unions can use the representation mechanism to inform the ILO Governing Body that a Member State has violated its commitments under an ILO convention in some way. If the Governing Body considers that the State’s response was unsatisfactory, a three-member committee may be formed to assess the allegation and the Member State’s response, both of which may be made public.
Independently, the Committee on Freedom of Association receives complaints from employers and workers organisations alleging abuses of freedom of association by states, regardless of whether the state has ratified the applicable conventions. If the Committee determines that there has been a violation, it may release a report and make recommendations to the State.
Articles 24- 30 of the International Labors Organization Convention deals with the procedure of complain mechanism by the members of ILO. A complaint may be brought against a member State for failing to comply with a ratified Convention by another ratifying member State, a delegate to the International Labour Conference, or the Governing Body on its own initiative. The complain can be also made by either the employers and workers or by the by the other member nations.
Article 24- complain by employers or workers: Employers or workers might make representation to ILO placing complain against their own nation for not following ILO mandate. After such complain the governing/executive body may invite that nation against whom the complain has been made to explain why there has been non-compliance of ILO principles. The defaulting nation has to make representation within the specific time explaining why the nation is not following the mandate of ILO or if during the meantime they have followed the mandate of ILO. There can be three consequences after the response has been sought:
- The governing body did not invite the nation because violation is so gross that it may not require giving explanation.
- The nation was invited but nation failed to represent itself within reasonable time.
- Nation was invited and has given the explanation but it was not satisfactory.
In all these circumstances, the governing body will follow the report and they will submit the report to the Commission of Inquiry (established by governing body).
The commission of inquiry will visit the defaulting nation to do the enquiry (A 28of ILO). They will then submit the detailed report to governing body through Director General of ILO, which report will be published (A 29 of ILO). The governing body will consider that report and the defaulting nation will be given another chance of representation for explaining the report.
In the second representation if the nation again did not appear then the matter will be directly taken over by the International Court of Justice. But, if the defaulting nation has given the statement in their defense, then a decision is given by the governing body on the basis of such representation/explanation.
On the basis of such decision, the governing body will give suggestions to defaulting nation in the form of publication and if suggestions are followed by the defaulting nation, the matter ends there but if not followed then matter goes to International Court of Justice. ICJ decision is final in the case (A 31.).
Complain mechanism by member nations: Any member can file the complaint against another member state for not following the mandate of ILO for specific convention in which both are the party. They same procedure is followed in this case two the only difference lies in the source of complaint made to ILO.