Paul Whitehead, Beatriz Vacotto, Stefanie Lorenzen, Susan Hayter, Jeffrey Vogt, and Edlira Xhafa

International Labour Standards: How to Use Them?

  • FREE
  • English
  • Interdisciplinary
  • with certificate upgrade option

What is the course about?

Welcome to our FREE online course "International Labour Standards: How to use them?"

Workers’ Rights are Human Rights. International Labour Standards are designed to provide minimum levels of protection every worker should enjoy. They serve as safeguards against exploitative and dangerous working conditions. Reaffirmed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, fundamental rights and dignity at the workplace are a precondition for building inclusive and sustainable societies. However, making respect for workers’ rights a reality remains a daily struggle for far too many.

This short online course offers a mix of video lectures, readings, discussion questions and self-learning options to provide you with knowledge and practical skills for using International Labour Standards to promote and defend worker’s rights worldwide.

What will I learn

At the end of the course, you will understand the concept behind International Labour Standards, as well as their standard-setting process at the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

You will have a sound overview of the functioning of the ILO supervisory mechanisms and how you can use them to promote and defend workers’ rights in your country or at the international level. You will also have a good understanding of the fundamentals of Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining, as well as the right to strike as a key element for realising workers’ rights.

What do I need to know?

No prior knowledge is required.

Course workload

The estimated workload is 5-6 hours per week if you read also the key reading for each unit.

Certificates and Scholarships

You will be able to obtain either a Certificate of Participation or a Certificate of Accomplishment for this course. The requirements for each certificate as well as scholarship possibilities are detailed in Chapter 1 of the course as well as in the last unit of the course. 

How to use course materials?

You can organise a local workshop on the topics of the course combining the course materials with local experts from trade unions, labour research institutes and universities.

If you work for a university, trade union or any other labour-related institution you are welcome to integrate the course material into your education and training programmes. All video lectures and interviews, readings, online resources, and exercises can be downloaded separately and used for free.

Course structure

Chapter 1: Introduction to International Labour Standards (ILS)

What is the concept behind International Labour Standards? Which types of International Labour Standards exist and how are they set? Which actors are involved and how are they interlinked? This chapter provides an overview on International Labour Standards and lays the foundation for understanding the standard setting mechanisms at the ILO. In particular, we have a close look at the role of trade unions in setting International Labour Standards.

Chapter 2: Supervision of International Labour Standards (ILS)
This chapter aims at enabling you to understand and use the ILO supervisory mechanisms for the protection of workers’ rights. The elaborate process is illustrated in a concise and hands-on way, and we take you through it step by step. Again, we pay particular attention to what trade unions can do to make effective use of the ILO supervisory mechanisms.

Chapter 3: Freedom of Association, Collective Bargaining and the right to strike
Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining are ‘enabling rights’ at the heart of decent work. But what is the legal concept of Freedom of Association under Convention 87 and what makes it fundamental to the implementation of International Labour Standards? This chapter also provides you with an overview on the current debate on the right to strike as a key element of Freedom of Association.

Course instructors (in order of appearance)

Prof. Paul Whitehead (Professor of Practice in Labor Studies and Employment Relations at
Penn State University, USA)

Beatriz Vacotto (Head of Unit Maritime Team, ILO)

Prof. Dr. Stefanie Lorenzen (Professor of Employment and Labour Law at the Berlin School of
Economics and Law)

Jeffrey Vogt (Legal Director, Solidarity Center)

Susan Hayter (Senior Labour Relations Specialist, ILO)

Course instructors

Selected Course Reviews

Overall Rating 4.8 (14 students)

Anthony Bandoh
11 months
Anushka Martolia
11 months
11 months
Lukman Anamzooya Ibrahim
11 months
Yousef Ibrahim
10 months
Matija Barisic
10 months
Edlira Xhafa
10 months
Iris Soliman
9 months
Mohammed Sarker
8 months
Peter Faithfull
8 months

Great Course

Plenty of useful content.

Mr Mehedee Islam
6 months
Manuel Manole
4 months
Brian Anthony Gumiran
about 1 month
Benjamin Velasco
about 1 month