ILO in history

  1. Social security for all

    01 December 2011

    According to the ILO’s “World Social Security Report 2010/11”, only 20 per cent of the world’s working-age population has access to comprehensive social security systems.

  2. The ILO in 1941: Preserving and extending the social frontiers of democracy

    01 August 2011

    Not long after the Second World War broke out in 1939, Switzerland was surrounded by Germany and its allies. It became clear that normal operations of the Geneva-based ILO were no longer possible. The Office moved to Montreal, Canada, in May 1940, where it was accommodated at McGill University.

  3. The International Labour Conference: Motor of the ILO

    01 May 2011

    In October of 1919, the first International Labour Conference (ILC) opened in an atmosphere of hope and anticipation. As delegates gathered in Washington, D.C., they were about to set in motion elements of the Treaty of Versailles that concerned the world of work.

  4. The long struggle for a social foundation of the global economy

    01 December 2010

  5. Setting the terms of the child labour debate

    01 August 2010

    Though child labour has preoccupied the ILO since its first days, the practice remains a problem of immense social and economic proportions throughout much of the world. While there has been progress in reducing child labour over the last decade, the decline was uneven in different world regions and the global pace of reduction slowed between 2004 and 2008.

  6. “Become a man instead of a mere machine”: The ILO and trends in working hours

    01 April 2010

    In 1930, John Maynard Keynes imagined a world in which, a hundred years later, work would be to a large extent replaced by leisure. He speculated about a three-hour shift and a 15-hour working week by 2030.

  7. From Bismarck to Beveridge: Social security for all

    01 December 2009

    120 years ago, Germany became the first nation in the world to adopt an old-age social insurance programme, designed by Otto von Bismarck...

  8. From the right to “combine” to the right to organize

    01 August 2009

    From about 1750 onwards, workers had started to organize in Europe. Governments and employers reacted quickly, and laws and regulations were adopted to restrict such activities.

  9. Women at work, past and present: Like night and day

    01 April 2009

    As the ILO marks its 90th anniversary, a year-long campaign on gender equality at the heart of decent work culminates with a discussion at the International Labour Conference. The ILO has always been in the forefront of promoting gender equality at work, and women’s rights, and this year’s campaign and discussion will be a milestone in the Organization’s efforts to shine new light on the status of women in the world of work.

  10. The Multinational Enterprises Declaration

    01 April 2008

    The story of the ILO’s Multinational Enterprises Declaration goes back more than three decades from before 1977, when it was formally adopted, to the end of the 1960s when the activities of multinationals were first beginning to attract serious attention – and, from some quarters, serious criticism.