|Questionnaires and Reports submitted to the Conference||
Reports of the Committees
|Texts Adopted||Other Documents|
Technical Survey of Agricultural Questions: Hours of Work, Unemployment, Protection of Women and Children, Technical Agricultural Education, Living-in Conditions, Rights of Association and Combination, Social Insurance
Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chili, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Esthonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Guatemala, India, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxemburg, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Roumania, Serb-Croat-Slovene Kingdom, Siam, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Preparations leading to the Third Conference
The Third Meeting of the Conference might be considered to be the second session of the General Conference since the session at Genoa (Second Session) was a special one, and it was concerned entirely with the regulation of labour at sea.
The Geneva session was like the first session held in Washington, and most of the items on the Agenda appeared as a sequence of the work of the First Conference. The Session was occupied with matters of general concern, though, as will be seen from the Agenda, agricultural questions bulked largely among the subjects under discussion.
The Governing Body of the International Labour Office, during its Session held in London, from 22nd to 25th March 1920, inscribed the three first items of the Agenda. The fourth item was added during the Session of the Governing Body held in Genoa, from 8th to 9th June 1920. The fifth item was inscribed on the Agenda following paragraph 3 of Article 402 of the Treaty of Peace, as the result of a decision taken by the General Conference, which, during its second meeting at Genoa the 15th June to 10th July 1920, approved of the insertion of this item in the Agenda during its sitting of the 29th June 1920, by a majority of 70 votes to 10 in the case of paragraph (a) and of 78 votes to 2 in the case of paragraph (b).
During its Sixth Session on 11 to 14 January 1921, the Governing Body decided to postpone the holding of the Third Session until October and to redistribute the items of the Agenda. The decision was made to give more precision to the scope of certain items on the Agenda and facilitate the work of the Conference. At the same time, the Governing Body wanted to render it possible for the governments to send a suitable number of technical advisers, complying with the provision of the Treaty of Versailles (Article 389), which permits the sending of two technical advisers for each item of the Agenda.
The Agenda of the Third Session of the General Conference of the International Labour Organisation had the following eight items:
I - Reform of the Constitution of the Governing Body of the International Labour Office.
II - Adaptation to agricultural labour of the Washington decisions concerning the regulation of the hours of work.
III - Adaptation to agricultural labour of the Washington decisions concerning:
a) Measures for the prevention of or providing against unemployment;
b) Protection of women and children.
IV - Special measures for the protection of agricultural workers:
a) Technical agricultural education;
b) Living-in conditions of agricultural workers;
c) Guarantee of the rights of association and combination;
d) Protection against accident, sickness, invalidity and old age.
V - Disinfection of wool infected with anthrax spores.
VI - Prohibition of the use of white lead in painting.
VII - The weekly rest-day in industrial and commercial employment.
VIII - a) The prohibition of the employment of any person under the age of 18 years as trimmer or stoker.
b) Compulsory medical examination of all children employed on board ship
In a circular letter dated 21 January 1921 addressed to the Governments, the Office announced the change of date of the Conference, the redistribution of the Agenda and explained the reasons for these decisions.
When preparing for the preceding Sessions of the General Conference, the International Labour Office sent out extensive questionnaires to all Governments requesting them to forward all available information concerning the questions on the Agenda. A new method in the preparation of material for the consideration of the meetings of the International Labour Conference was indicated in the Introductory Note, which was printed at the head of all questionnaires sent out for the forthcoming meeting. They hoped this new method could give the Office material and the opportunity to draw up Reports for the Conference of even greater precision and value than those prepared for the Washington and Genoa meetings.
The following Reports contained (1) the replies of the Governments to the Questionnaire; (2) a general survey of the questions in the light of these replies, and (3) proposals, based upon the foregoing, which have been drawn up by the International Labour Office for submission to the Conference for consideration:
Under Article 408 of the Treaty of Peace, the Members of the International Labour Organization may preapre an annual report to the International Labour Office regarding the measures which it has taken to give effect to the provisions of Conventions to which it is a party. The Director of the International Labour Organization shall prepare a Report with a summary of these reports before the meeting of the Conference.
On 23 October 1921, the ILO Director Albert Thomas submitted its report. The report comprised three parts: the first part sets out how the machinery at the disposal of the ILO has been built up; how, in conformity with the provisions of the Treaty of Peace, the International Labour Office has been created; its internal organisation, the resources at its disposal, and the legal and constitutional relations between it and the other organisations of the League of Nations. The second part consisted of a study of the results obtained regarding international Labour Legislation in the ratification of Conventions, the application of Recommendations and the positive results gained in these various fields. The third part was devoted to the scientific work of the Office, to the enquiries which have already been carried out, and to the coordination and distribution of intelligence. Finally, a short conclusion comprised an examination of the Office's general position and the various other tasks entrusted to it.
Like most legislative bodies, the Conference worked through committees and commissions. During the preliminary discussions outlined above, these Commissions had been appointed and had, in some cases, begun their work. They were of the two usual types, those concerned with the machinery and those occupied in elaborating the Draft Conventions and Recommendations, which were the legislative acts of the Conference.
Among the former type are to be reckoned the Commission of Selection, which makes a preliminary examination of all resolutions submitted and which determines, subject of course to the approval of the Conference, the order and arrangement of business, the Commission on Credentials, and the Drafting Committee.
The Third Conference
The Third Session of the International Labour Conference was held in Geneva from 25 October to 19 November 1921. The delegates numbered 118 - 69 represented their government, 24 the employers, and 25 the workers - from 39 States, and they were accompanied by some 230 technical advisers.
The Conference was presided by Lord Burnham (United Kingdom), and the three Vice-Presidents selected were: Cincinato Da Silva Braga (Brazil), J. S. Edström (Sweden) and Léon Jouhaux (France).
The agricultural questions were divided among three Commissions. To the first of these was entrusted Items III (a) (Measures for the prevention of or providing against unemployment) and IV (d) (Protection against accident, sickness invalidity and old age). Sir A. D. Hall, one of the British Government Delegates, was elected chairman. This Commission devoted most of its time to unemployment.
The Second Commission allocated all questions affecting women and children in agricultural employment. These comprised the adaptation to agricultural labour of the Washington decisions concerning the protection of women and children (Protection of women employed in agriculture before and after childbirth; the night work of women and children and the age of admission of children to employment in agriculture), which formed part of Item III of the agenda, and the question of living-in conditions, taken from Item IV.
The third Commission on agricultural questions dealt with parts of Item IV of the Agenda on technical agricultural education and guaranteeing the rights of association and protection for agricultural workers. General agreement was easily obtained upon the former of these subjects, and the proposed Recommendation of the International Labour Office was adopted. Its terms urged that the States Members of the Labour. The organisation should encourage the development of technical agricultural education and should make it available for wage-earners.
The Commission on Maritime Questions dealt with Item VIII of the agenda comprised two questions: Prohibition of the employment of any person under 18 years as a trimmer or stoker; and compulsory medical examination of all children employed on board ships. Both shipowners and seamen were well represented.
A Commission on Anthrax was created to fight this terrible disease so far as possible in the ports of exporting countries by instituting a system of disinfection, under the supervision, to a certain extent, of an International Anthrax Commission.
The Commission on Weekly Rest had one of the most challenging tasks, elaborate an international ‘legislation’ on the subject of the weekly rest. To some degree, the weekly rest is the complement of the 8-hour day and the 48-hour week, and the Commission seems always to have been conscious of the difficulties which have arisen in the application of the Convention of Washington on the latter subject. While government representatives and employers desired to leave the utmost possible elasticity in the decision – constantly approving the principle of one day’s rest in seven fully – the workers expected to have a definite and binding conclusion.
The Commission on White Lead was an exceedingly able one, comprising experts in the technique of painting and paint manufacture, factory inspectors and medical specialists in the study of lead poisoning, and the long sittings of Commission and Sub-Commissions provided what is probably the most complete discussion of this very difficult question which has yet taken place. The main controversy raged around the prohibition on the one hand and regulation on the other, but in order that something like an exact scientific basis might be discovered before any decision was made, the Commission entrusted to a medical Sub-Commission the preliminary task of examining whether, in the present state of medical science, it was possible correctly to diagnose lead poisoning. A second medical Sub-Commission reviewed the question of the degree of risk run by painters in pursuing their occupation and how the poison entered their bodies.
A Commission on Internal Reforms was concerned with what has been called the legislative side of the duties of the Conference. However, there were several questions relative to the internal affairs of the Conference and of the Organisation itself. First in importance amongst these was the Reform of the Constitution of the Governing Body, which formed Item I of the Agenda. The Conference referred these questions to the Commission of Selection, which created a Sub-Commission to consider the matter. The reform of the Standing Orders of the Conference was also considered by a Sub-Commission of the Commission of Selection, and the latter's proposals were, referred to the Governing Body with a view to action at the next session of the Conference.
A further Sub-Commission of the same Commission had the somewhat arduous task of examining the numerous resolutions submitted to the Conference by individual delegates or groups and deciding upon their fate.
The Third Session of the International Labour Conference held twenty-seven plenary sittings, and the following eight Recommendations and seven Draft Conventions were adopted:
Further, resolutions dealing with agricultural labour, the industrial position of men disabled in the war, cooperation, and a multitude of other subjects were mostly referred to the Governing Body for subsequent consideration or action.
The following 12 resolutions were adopted by the Conference: