ILO Convention 177, also known as the Home Work Convention, is an international labour standard adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO). It aims to protect the rights of homeworkers and improve their working conditions.
The significance of Convention 177 (C177) lies in its recognition of home work as a form of work and its commitment to ensuring fair treatment and social protection for homeworkers.
C177 addresses several specific articles related to home work, working conditions, and social protection. Here are some key provisions of C177:
By following these provisions, countries can ensure that their legislation, policies, and practices align with the principles of C177, providing better protection and support for homeworkers.
The adoption of the Home Work Convention at the 1996 International Labour Conference (ILC) was a significant achievement following a determined campaign led by the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) of India.
SEWA, established in 1972 in Ahmedabad, India, became a pioneering union for informal workers, including many home-based workers, and recognized the need to combine the women’s movement with the labour movement to safeguard the rights of informal women workers. As part of their efforts, SEWA collaborated with home-based worker organizations in countries such as Australia, Brazil, England, Italy, Spain, and others, leading to the formation of HomeNet International in 1993. This network aimed to advocate for an ILO convention specifically addressing home-based workers’ rights and gained support from women trade unionists.
Despite initial opposition from the employers’ group and some governments, the workers’ group within the ILO persistently lobbied to include an international standard for homeworkers on the agenda. Through workshops, meetings, and engagement with policymakers in Delhi, and Bangkok, their advocacy efforts gained momentum. Guidelines were circulated to guide the workers’ group in negotiations.
In 1996, a coalition was formed comprising organizations like the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF), the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV), SEWA, and a growing network of home-based workers’ organizations and supporting NGOs. With the backing of the Secretary to the ILO Workers’ Group, this coalition played a vital role.
Ultimately, their persistent lobbying and collaboration led to the adoption of the Home Work Convention at the ILC in 1996. This Convention marked a crucial step in recognizing and safeguarding the rights of home-based workers worldwide.
With home-based work on the rise, it is surprising to observe that as of 2023 only 13 countries have ratified C177. According to the ILO, prior to the COVID-19 crisis, there were approximately 260 million home-based workers worldwide, representing 7.9 per cent of global employment; 56 per cent of them (147 million) were women. When the 2020 numbers are finally tallied by the ILO, it is expected that the number of home-based workers around the world will far surpass the latest figures from 2019.
There are compelling reasons why the ratification of ILO Convention 177 by more countries is crucial:
By addressing the concerns of homeworkers through ratification and implementation of C177, the conditions of other home-based workers, including self-employed or own-account workers, will also be highlighted and protection extended to them.
|Antigua and Barbuda
|Bosnia and Herzegovina
|18 Jan 2010
|22 Apr 1999
|14 Apr 2021
Homenet International is an organization that advocates for the rights and welfare of home-based workers globally. HNI has been actively involved in promoting the ratification and implementation of Convention 177, and focuses on empowering home-based workers through awareness and advocacy campaigns, capacity-building trainings for its affiliates, and other activities.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that focuses on promoting social justice and decent work worldwide. Founded in 1919 and headquartered in Geneva, the ILO is the only worldwide tripartite organisation in which workers’ and employers’ organisations are represented on equal terms with governments to develop and oversee international labour standards.
ILO’s primary task is to set labour standards and to promote ‘decent work’ so as to improve the livelihoods of working people everywhere. This is done primarily through the International Labour Conference (ILC), which is held once a year in Geneva.
ILO’s conventions and recommendations are international labour standards established by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to promote decent work, protect workers’ rights, and improve labour conditions worldwide.
ILO conventions are legally binding international treaties that member countries are encouraged to ratify and implement as their national laws. When a country ratifies a convention, it commits to adopting and applying the standards and principles outlined in that convention. Think of ILO’s conventions as rules that countries are encouraged to follow and implement in their own laws to protect workers and improve work conditions. These conventions cover many different topics related to labour, such as minimum wages, occupational safety, and freedom of association. They are a set of standards that countries agree to meet.
ILO recommendations, on the other hand, are non-binding guidelines and policy suggestions that accompany conventions. They are helpful suggestions that come along with the conventions, providing extra guidance and examples on how to put the conventions into action. While not mandatory, these recommendations are essential for countries to understand how to effectively follow the conventions and serve as valuable references for governments, employers, and workers’ organizations when formulating labour policies and practices.