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142 Int'l Lab. Rev. 113 (2003)
Decent Work: Concept and Indicators

handle is hein.journals/intlr142 and id is 123 raw text is: Intemational Labour Review, Vol. 142 (2003), No. 2

Decent work: Concept and indicators
Dharam GHAI*
The primary goal of the ILO today is to promote opportunities for women and
men to obtain decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equality,
security and human dignity (ILO, 1999a, p. 3).
T he concept of decent work was launched in these terms in 1999,
in the Report of the Director-General to the International
Labour Conference meeting in its 87th Session. The idea both conveys
the broad and varied dimensions associated with work today and
encapsulates them in an expression that everyone can appreciate. But
what does the notion of decent work really comprise?
Four components of the notion are elaborated in the same Report
of the Director-General: employment, social protection, workers'
rights and social dialogue. Employment here covers work of all kinds
and has both quantitative and qualitative dimensions. Thus, decent
work applies not just to workers in the formal economy but also to
unregulated wage workers, the self-employed and home workers. It
also refers to adequate opportunities for work, remuneration (in cash
and in kind), and embraces safety at work and healthy working condi-
tions. Social security and income security are also essential components
- defined according to each society's capacity and level of development.
The two other components emphasize the social relations of workers:
the fundamental rights of workers (freedom of association, non-
discrimination at work, and the absence of forced labour and child
labour); and social dialogue, in which workers exercise their right to
present their views, defend their interests and engage in discussions to
negotiate work-related matters with employers and authorities.
But how to find measures encompassing all these notions and
expressing their interconnectedness? How to assess the current state and
future progress of decent work in the world? Researchers are tackling
* Former Director, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. This article
is an abridged and updated version of Decent work: Concepts, models and indicators, Discussion
Paper No. 139, published by the International Institute for Labour Studies (Geneva, 2002).

Copyright © International Labour Organization 2003

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