Legal Construction of Structures of Exploitation
Philosophical Foundations of Labour Law, Hugh Collins, Gillian Lester and Virginia Mantouvalou (eds), OUP, 2018
19 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2019
Date Written: June 5, 2018
This chapter argues that the prevailing understanding of workers’ exploitation in law and policy is unjustifiably narrow, and that the concept should not be confined to slavery and servitude, forced and compulsory labour, nor should it be linked to criminalisation alone. Looking at the concept of exploitation in political philosophy, it advances an alternative conception. The literature analyses exploitation as taking unfair advantage of someone or taking unfair advantage of someone’s vulnerability, and develops opportunistic and structural accounts of exploitation. The focus of this chapter then turns to the role of the law. Building primarily on structural accounts, it examines exploitation that consists in a special vulnerability created by law and the taking advantage of the vulnerability by violating workers’ rights or other human rights. It considers four examples of groups of workers who are in this position: migrant workers, domestic workers, prison workers and care workers in zero hour contracts. The chapter suggests that it is not only private employers who have to be held accountable for exploitation, but also state authorities themselves.
Keywords: Exploitation, modern slavery, slavery, servitude, forced labour, structural vulnerability, Marx, workers’ rights, human rights
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