Abstract and Keywords
This chapter examines ‘labor’ as an issue which international organizations have attempted to regulate over the last century by using legal and other techniques to construct modes and structures of governance. It begins by setting out the five reasons why the terrain of labour is especially difficult for IOs to negotiate. It then considers how these reasons both structure and complicate the competing narratives of the labour issue, in the context of the roles and actions of prominent IOs as well as significant events and debates. It is argued that the long-held narrative about international labour standards as a necessary cost to be paid in order to either to constrain markets in the name of fairness, or to avoid radical social outcomes, is today inadequate. Rather, a new, alternative account is needed: that labour law can be, and is best seen, as holding positive value for both the creation of real human freedom, just societies and economic progress.
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