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GLG Directory

Mapping labour global governance constellations

There is a growing sense that economic globalization advances while other dimensions of an increasingly integrated world are lagging behind. Perhaps one on the best example of this “unequal” globalization process is illustrated by the wide gap between the advances in the negotiation of trade issues and the very slow process of internationalizing - or globalizing - employment and labor issues. But if there is no grand social project or global labour code matching the global economy, this does not mean that there is no labour governance system being developed. Since the 1990s, in the context of globalization and economic liberalization, regulatory initiatives of labour issues have multiplied.

As the core feature of this project, a directory of labour governance mechanisms will allow to draw the mapping of what we call « the labor governance constellations ». This LGG Directory is intended to be a practical tool to develop a LGG research protocol. It constituted the first step towards a program of activities contributing to a better understanding of labour issues in the context of globalization, as well as to the development of effective strategies that could have positive impacts on working conditions and labour rights in theworld economy.

The Directory will :

- provide a mapping of new labour governance mechanisms classified in three large categories (trade-labour initiatives, international initiatives, transnational initiatives developed by the private sector and civil society) ;
- investigate the perspective of different actors in relation to these initiatives ;
- offer research tools on labour governance issues (research projects, Web sites, academic literature, etc...) ;
- contribute to the development of a prospective research program on the significance of emerging forms of labour regulation and the interaction between them.

The research team and collaborators will contribute to build the LGG Directory by adding material and information to complete the mapping, providing analysis and insights (research papers, comments, notes), elaborating the research program, and participating in the virtual roundtable.

What is the nature of the GLG ? Does it reach beyond rhetoric ? What are its potential benefits and shortcomings ? Does it favour private and soft regulation as opposed to public and legally binding governance mechanisms ? Should more legally formalized dimensions of the GLG be strengthened, and if so, how can this be achieved ? Can the different initiatives and strategies reinforce each other ? Those are only few of the questions arising recently in a vast literature on labour governance initiatives.

In mapping GLG constellations, the project will provide information and analysis on three types of initiatives : (1) trade-labour initiatives ; (2) international initiatives ; and (3) transnational initiatives from the private sector and civil society. Understanding specific types of initiatives is expected to facilitate the understanding of the ways in which they interact with one another, thereby forming a “global labour governance system”. Whereas the sub sections will concentrate on specific initiatives, this general section of the Directory will be devoted to mapping the “global governance system” ; it will provide key research tools and analytical insights on the nature of the GLG with special attention being given to the interaction between the fragmented parts of its architecture.

As a starting point, we oppose two scenarios :

- One - Constellation : The GLG is a mere constellation of forms of labour regulation that exacerbates a race to the bottom and a privatization on social systems. Initiatives do little else than make globalization more acceptable, while conflicting with one another.
- Two - Networking : The GLG is evolving towards a networking of initiatives involving new compromises and new responses which could potentially lead to a new social compact.

One of the core idea of this project is that a labour global governance system must be more than a constellation of independent – an often conflicting – governance mechanisms. If labour governance initiatives are numerous and varied, the challenge resides in analyzing and understanding how they, or how they could, form a coherent and effective GLG. Ultimately, the various forms of labour governance should be integrated into a network of rules and standards that ensures coherence, cross-fertilization and the levelling up of labour standards having effective impacts on working conditions and labour rights in an increasingly integrated world economy. This section will thus seek to provide a basis to develop research on how to further integrate – network – the different mechanisms into a more effective and coherent GLG.

Initiatives

What is the nature of the GLG ? Does it reach beyond rhetoric ? What are its potential benefits and shortcomings ? Does it favour private and soft regulation as opposed to public and legally binding governance mechanisms ? Should more legally formalized dimensions of the GLG be strengthened, and if so, how can this be achieved ? Can the different initiatives and strategies reinforce each other ? Those are only few of the questions arising recently in a vast literature on labour governance initiatives.

In mapping GLG constellations, the project will provide information and analysis on three types of initiatives : (1) trade-labour initiatives ; (2) international initiatives ; and (3) transnational initiatives from the private sector and civil society. Understanding specific types of initiatives is expected to facilitate the understanding of the ways in which they interact with one another, thereby forming a “global labour governance system”. Whereas the sub sections will concentrate on specific initiatives, this general section of the Directory will be devoted to mapping the “global governance system” ; it will provide key research tools and analytical insights on the nature of the GLG with special attention being given to the interaction between the fragmented parts of its architecture.

As a starting point, we oppose two scenarios :

- One - Constellation : The GLG is a mere constellation of forms of labour regulation that exacerbates a race to the bottom and a privatization on social systems. Initiatives do little else than make globalization more acceptable, while conflicting with one another.
- Two - Networking : The GLG is evolving towards a networking of initiatives involving new compromises and new responses which could potentially lead to a new social compact.

One of the core idea of this project is that a labour global governance system must be more than a constellation of independent – an often conflicting – governance mechanisms. If labour governance initiatives are numerous and varied, the challenge resides in analyzing and understanding how they, or how they could, form a coherent and effective GLG. Ultimately, the various forms of labour governance should be integrated into a network of rules and standards that ensures coherence, cross-fertilization and the levelling up of labour standards having effective impacts on working conditions and labour rights in an increasingly integrated world economy. This section will thus seek to provide a basis to develop research on how to further integrate – network – the different mechanisms into a more effective and coherent GLG.


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Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)    Institut d'études internationales de Montréal (IEIM)    Centre d'études sur l'intégration et la mondialisation (CEIM)    CANADA    Ressources humaines et Développement social Canada    Conseil des relations internationales de Montréal (CORIM)