Labour standards are industrial human rights and influence all aspects of individuals’ working lives from pay and wages, working time, health and safety to non-discrimination and equal opportunity. Workers’ rights also extend to collective rights such as union representation and collective bargaining. Labour standards protect, empower, and promote those who work in the workplace and beyond, also by placing restrictions on what is tolerable, for example by prohibiting child and forced labour.
Yet, there is an irritating paradox marking the global situation around global labour standards: Despite a growing number of initiatives, recommendations and suggestions for various policy instruments, violation of basic industrial human rights continues to be a profound challenge of the world’s social development, at least as defined in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the ILO_International Labour Organisation’ conventions. In fact, despite the many national and international initiatives of single legislating bodies, international organizations, trade unions, civil society organizations, corporations and engaged individuals, labour standard violations have proven to be persistent for decades.
Severe labour standard violations occur repeatedly in various industries and sectors within many countries and are part and parcel of numerous cross-border supply chains and production networks. Large parts of today’s supply chains for goods and services collapsed if labour standard violations were sanctioned by effective restrictions. This holds for products and services of mass consumption such as smartphones, fashion items, online book ordering or the purchase of a chocolate bar in your local supermarket.
This is a very sad state of affairs: When labour standards and workers’ rights are violated this is a problem for the individual workers affected, first and foremost. For the individual workers, today’s exploitative working conditions come in many forms and types, and usually bring along with them tragic injuries and deathly incidences. Labour standard violations also kill slowly by worsening living conditions, shortening life expectancy, and reducing life chances of millions of workers across the globe. Of course, labour standard violations also have wider repercussions for societies such as political conflict, social disintegration, and a weakening of sustainable responses to the climate crisis.
That’s why the #LIB_Labour Inspection Blog aims at collecting and spreading the already existing academic knowledge about this social problem, but also wants to support those who identify, create, and realize solutions in practice. For this purpose, the #LIB defines “labour inspection” broadly as those labour politics with the goal to end labour standard violations. If you can subscribe to these goals, you are welcome to contribute your own views, topics, and ideas.
The #LIB’s conclusion is that these ongoing labour standard violations are caused by a huge gap between rulemaking and the enactment, implementation, and enforcement of these rules. Despite the many national and international initiatives by single legislating bodies, state agencies and bodies, international organizations, trade unions, civil society organizations, corporations and engaged individuals, this gap has proven to be persistent in many industries and sectors within and across countries. In short, the obvious ambitions to uphold global labour standards are frustrated by a sort of organized irresponsibility that ignores the huge gap between formal rule making and the enactment, implementation, and enforcement of these rules.
Therefore, the #LIB aims at collecting and spreading the existing knowledge about this social problem, but also wants to support those who identify, create, and realize solutions in practice to end labour standard violations. For this purpose, labour inspection is broadly defined as those labour politics with the goal to end labour standard violations. These politics take place in various fields and arenas and are carried forward by various actors. Examples include supply chain & due diligence legislation, union networks and global framework agreements as well as civil society campaigns, consumer activism and state agencies and bodies entitled to enforce labour standards. For ending labour standard violations, it is still not known what the right mix of labour inspection instruments looks like. To assist in finding out in collective debate and exchange is the goal of the #LIB. You are warmly invited to collaborate.