JS380 Lecture Notes - Living Wage, Accelerating Change, Precarious Work

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Legal Response to Labour Issues
o hard to claim, but there are legal discrimination
o becomes easier with clear standards and benchmarks
o most remedies available only to those employees who have already less
Global Labour Standards
o could be enforced via tariffs, tax incentives
non-citizens particularly vulnerable
income inequality
o not directly a labour law question, but does have a labour implication
Arthurs "The Transformation of Work, the Disappearnce of "Workers" and the Future of
Workplace RegulatioN" 2009
from 1950s to 1970s, wokers enjoyed rising wages, more job security, greater
workplace protections, and so on
we have stuff like minimum wages, progressive income taxation, living wage
campaigns, etc as a result of unions and social democratic parties
o all in the context of favorable labour market conditions, by an expanding and
increasingly productive economy
changes started happeing in the 1970s
o intensified the division of labour and its geographical dispersal
o polarized workforce by creating some knowledge workers, but consigning
unskilled workers to the margin
o increasingly self-managed workers in knowledge sector, unskilled increasingly
disciplined and monitored by computers
o accelerating change and rapid obsolecense of woker skill
Shfit from Manufacturing to service
o manufacturing jobs lost, moved to lower paying, less benefit jobs in the
service sector with low levelf o unionization
flexibilization of the workforce
o jobs no longer permanent, employees will be let go ASAP where needed
o part=time, sort-time work used as a reserve army of labour
o increasingly heterogenous workforce, more women and visible minorities
o young people older than they used to be when (and if) they get jobs
o so more and more diverse, but perhaps solidarity more challenging
o outscouring in a global labour market
o emloyers have the option to move manufacturing and service jobs away from
well-paid unionized workers to cheaper countries
mere threat of moving has downward effect on wages.
Disappearance of Workers
idea of people identified as "workers" or "working class" increasingly sounds
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people identify as consumer, or perhaps when experiencing unfairness as members
of a disenfranchised group
solidarity building exercise of workers working together under poor conditions no
longer exists
Shouldn't pretend some things haven't gotten better- working people are better off
than they used to be, but as a qualtitative description of a group "workers" have
disappeared as a sociological category
but in a quantitative sense, there are still a great many workers
o and they have a lot to be mad about
o income inequality, inequality in livign conditions, paritcipation in politicas,
educational and occupational opportunities, etc.
but for whateever reason, labour movement in disarray
o labour issues rarely central to political debates
o unions increasingly unable to "deliver the vote"
o labour ministries shrinking in response
o workers not viewed as a constituency, but rather as a resource that must be
trained, developed, and so in order to improve business
The future of workplace regulation
o interest in creating new labour standards very low
o as is restructing the labour market to ensure full employmnet
globalization and monetarist policies have put unemployment int he
hands of bankers, and neo-liberalism makes regulation anatehma
o collective bargainig weaked as well
US failure to pass card-check
o even putatively pro-labour government aren't adopting new labour legislation
everyone focused on keepign the economy going
economy dictating policy to government
o because the average worker and the average job is changing, labour policy
needs to adjust
can't just focus on the male breadwinner in the vertically integrated
different kinds of workers have different kinds of needs and must be
and unions sometimes view this as zero-sum, accomodating
one person means depriving another
colective bargainign on a plant-to-plant basis makes little sense when
everyone is changing jobs so ofte
flexible workforce aso makes provision of benefits more complicated,
and part-time workforce often not getting access to these
"employment" benefits.
manufacturing jobs no longer the norm
may need some transnational law since employers can pick up and
may need to consider who should be responsible for paying for the
constant retraining necessary for a worker to adapt with the rapidly
changing technology and employment
how do maximum hours, overtime, etc function in a "Just in time"
world where businesses are expected to be open around the clock.
Three options
o forget abotu labour law, and focus on human rights rather than workers'
o try and work within capitalism and laissez fair
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