The COVID-19 Crisis, Labour Rights and the Role of the State
Joo-Cheong Tham, 'The COVID-19 Crisis, Labour Rights and the Role of the State'  (85) Journal of Australian Political Economy 71-83
13 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 15, 2020
This article assesses the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on labour rights in Australia. It considers this impact according to three labour rights (the right to work; the right to social protection; the right to safe and healthy working conditions) and three cross currents (the forces of inequality; the increase in employer power; social dialogue).
Threading through this analysis are the relevant international labour standards, particularly the standards set by International Labour Organisation (ILO). These standards are normative standards – they point to what is morally significant.
They also assist in considering how the COVID-19 crisis has altered the role of the state in relation to labour rights. Before the crisis, this role corresponded with neoliberal understandings of a market-friendly and minimal state. By comparison, international labour standards offer a different understanding of the role of the state - a social democratic understanding where the state performs an active role in regulating the market in the interest of promoting decent work. What seems to be emerging from the crisis is, however, a state that is neither fully neoliberal nor social democratic – a ‘JobMaker’ state.
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