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Global Labour Policy as Global Social Policy by Kerry Rittich

Focusing on the development and market reform agendas of global economic institutions, this paper explores how the transformation of international governance norms, private law rules and business regulation has affected social objectives, especially those relating to redistributive justice. The author argues that social policy in the global arena has effectively been collapsed into labour market policy, and posits that rising inequality within and between states may be linked to a widely accepted macroeconomic program which gives market forces an enhanced role in social and economic ordering. Characteristic of that program is the OECD’s highly influential Jobs Strategy, which in both its 1994 and 2006 versions advocates the pursuit of economic growth by increasing labour market flexibility curbing employment protections, decentralizing collective bargaining, and ensuuing that social expenditures and social insurance are designed to “make work pay.” Recent OECD findings, however cast doubt on the basic premise that policies of labour market flexibility generate either improved economic growth or better employment outcomes. In addition, the Jobs Strategy fails to address three major concerns around work in the new economy: unemployment and under-employment; the rise of precarious work; and the labour market consequences of unpaid work, most of which continue to be experienced by women. Given the concurrent emphasis on labour market flexibility, the emerging concept of “core labour rights” is unlikely, on its own, to provide an adequate foundation for a reconstructed system of worker protections. In the absence of evidence showing better labour market outcomes in those countries which have implemented the Job Strategy and given the indications that labour market institutions may also contribute to better economic outcomes, there appears to be no compelling reason to adopt policies that, ultimately, reverse the decommodification of labour and recontractualize the employment relationship.

 Part One    Part Two     Part Three 

Related posts:

  1. Critical Directions in Comparative Family Law: Genealogies and Contemporary Studies of Family Law Exceptionalism by Janet Halley and Kerry Rittich
  2. Black Sites: Locating the Family and Family Law in Development by Kerry Rittich
  3. Between Worker’s Rights and Flexibility: Labor Law in an Uncertain World by Kerry Rittich
  4. Introduction to Special Issue: Sexual Commerce and the Global Flow of Bodies, Desires, and Social Policies by Elizabeth Bernstein
  5. Kerry Rittich, University of Toronto