Is Globalization Finally Re-Balancing? Novel Ways of Leveling the Playing Field for Labor
13 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2019
Date Written: September 16, 2019
Globalization as well as global governance, especially since the 1990s, has suffered from an imbalance to the detriment of labor, and in favor of the free flow of goods, services and capital (benefitting disproportionately capital as compared to labor). More recently, however, some re-balancing may be occurring: less liberalization and protection of cross-border trade and investment flows; more protection of labor. This contribution offers a number of novel, unorthodox instruments that have emerged or have been discussed or proposed that may slowly “level the playing field” in favor of labor. Some are (i) focused on liability of multinational parent or sourcing companies, others (ii) target the traded product (be it by means of import duties or income tax adjustments), yet others (iii) concentrate on work or the worker him or herself (anti-trust enforcement in favor of workers; construing “data as labor” or putting in place mechanisms allowing for “tele-migration”). These avenues are novel in that they are not focused on employers in the production country, nor centered around ILO conventions with labor commitments on host states and relatively soft compliance mechanisms. Indeed, most of these instruments are market- or technology-based, hard-law instruments embedded in domestic law or arbitration, or in international organizations or treaties outside of the ILO.
Keywords: globalization, global governance, labor protection, multinational companies, ILO
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