Globalization and Decent Work Policy: Reflections upon a New Legal Approach

By Servais, Jean-Michel | International Labour Review, January 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

Globalization and Decent Work Policy: Reflections upon a New Legal Approach


Servais, Jean-Michel, International Labour Review


From the ongoing debate on the future of work, it is becoming increasingly clear that social policies and related legislation need adapting to more open and competitive markets and to more complex, segmented and technology-driven ways of organizing production and services. Indeed, that labour law needs remodelling to adjust to the "new economy" in the broadest sense of the term can hardly be disputed. It is no longer a question of whether, but how the remodelling process will take place.

The modernization of social and labour policies calls for reconsideration of the optimum balance to be struck between workers' protection, job creation and competitiveness - i.e. the balance between economic development and nationally or internationally recognized values and rights.

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, equity, security and human dignity. This is the main purpose of the Organization today. Decent work is the converging focus of all its four strategic objectives: the promotion of rights at work; employment; social protection; and social dialogue. It must guide its policies and define its international role in the near future (ILO, 1999, p. 3).

The concept of decent work thus embodies the expression of the ILO's resolve to bring together all the components of harmonious economic and social development, of which regulations for the protection of labour are a key feature.

The goal is not just the creation of jobs, but the creation of jobs of acceptable quality. The quantity of employment cannot be divorced from its quality. All societies have a notion of decent work, but the quality of employment can mean many things. It could relate to different forms of work, and also to different conditions of work, as well as feelings of value and satisfaction. The need today is to devise social and economic systems which ensure basic security and employment while remaining capable of adaptation to rapidly changing circumstances in a highly competitive global market (ILO, 1999, p. 4; see also ILO, 2003, pp. 77-80, 91-92 and 117-119).

Hence also the need to determine the most effective ways of implementing the chosen policy, i.e. how to translate the above policy mix into outcomes that will make a real difference in workers' daily lives. Not all options involve legislation. Indeed, the potential of approaches based on political agreements, economic measures, training and information, technical "standards" and practical guidelines should not be underestimated, though their effects do tend to be circumstantial. The legal approach, by contrast, presupposes a longer-term vision. It implies a decision to make policy more durable by grounding it in legislation and, if necessary, to resort to penalties - a distinctive feature of law.

The purpose of this article is to consider the most effective ways of legislating. Though the role of judicial decision-making in the concrete application of law will not be discussed in depth here, it should be borne in mind that the judiciary plays a key part in the implementation of social policy at the micro-economic level (Servais, 2002).

From the perspective of standard-setting, the aim of the ILO's decent work policy is to satisfy all the prerequisites for ensuring that labour regulations are actually applied. In this respect, the obstacles encountered typically stem from socio-economic resistance - a problem compounded by the difficulty of measuring the cost of applying labour standards.

The very concept of "decency" suggests possible responses to these concerns. To begin with, it implies the capability of women and men at work to practice solidarity instead of seeking mutual domination. The concept thus suggests dialogue, calling for the support of the social partners in the design, drafting and implementation of labour laws; after all, the social partners would seem to be well placed to assess the consequences of such laws, including their financial implications. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Globalization and Decent Work Policy: Reflections upon a New Legal Approach
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.