Labour

Introduction

Labour | Research Guide International Law

Since humans appeared on earth, we have had to work to secure what we needed to survive or to improve our standard of living. The term labour in its most general use, refers to productive human work. Through much of history, it was not treated as a commodity that was “paid for.” As time passed and societies grew larger and more complex, labour became more specialized. Each person became an expert at doing just a few things or even just one thing. This specialization meant that workers became more productive. The purpose of (international) labour law is to regulate the relation of employers and employees, to make provision for settlement of industrial disputes and to provide for certain other purposes. Employment law, sometimes referred to as labour law, encompasses the massive compilation of statutory laws, administrative rulings, and legal precedents which cover all facets of the employer/employee relationship. To address the problems caused by the industrialization of Europe in the 19th century, Robert Owen of Wales, and Jerome Blanqui and Daniel Legrand of France, among others, brought the need for international cooperation in setting labour standards to international prominence. The reasons articulated for the necessity of cooperation were both benevolent and economic. Cooperation was necessary to eradicate poverty and injustice, not just to protect workers, but also to prevent the social unrest these conditions could engender. Furthermore, international cooperation was necessary because each nation would be at a competitive disadvantage if it imposed higher standards unilaterally. Ultimately, these concerns led to the formation of The International Labour Organization on April 11, 1919 as an affiliated agency of the League of Nations.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research on International Labour Law. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's systematic classification → Public international law and subject heading (keyword) International Labour Law are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.

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Bibliography

Reference works

Books & Articles

Periodicals, serial publications

Bibliographies

New titles

As we are right in the middle of moving to a new library system, it is not yet possible to automatically collect new titles for this Research Guide.

Librarian's choice

  • Boris, E., Hoehtker, D., Zimmermann, S., (eds.), Women's ILO : Transnational Networks, Global Labour Standards and Gender Equity, 1919 to Present, Leiden, Brill, 2018.

    Boris, Women's ILO Transnational Networks, Global Labour Standards and Gender Equity, 1919 to Present

    What is the place of women in global labour policies? Women’s ILO: Transnational Networks, Global Labour Standards, and Gender Equity, 1919 to Present gathers new research on a century of ILO engagement with women’s work. It asks: what was the role of women’s networks in shaping ILO policies and what were the gendered meanings of international labour law in a world of uneven and unequal development? Women’s ILO explores issues like equal remuneration, home-based labour, and social welfare internationally and in places such as Argentina, Italy, and Ghana. It scrutinizes the impact of both power relations and global feminisms on the making of global labour policies in a world shaped by colonialism, the Cold War and post-colonial inequality. It further charts the disparate advancement of gender equity, highlighting the significant role of women experts and activists in the process.

    Contributors are: Paula Lucía Aguilar, Lucia Artner, Eloisa Betti, Chris Bonner, Eileen Boris, Akua O. Britwum, Dorothy Sue Cobble, Dorothea Hoehtker, Pat Horn, Sonya Michel, Silke Neunsinger, Renana Jhabvala, Marieke Louis, Yevette Richards, Mahua Sarkar, Kirsten Scheiwe, Françoise Thébaud, Susan Zimmermann

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  • Dahan, Y., Lerner, H. and Faina Milman-Sivan (eds.), Global Justice and International Labour Rights, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2016.

    Dahan, Y., Lerner, H. and Faina Milman-Sivan (eds.), Global Justice and International Labour Rights, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2016.

    Despite the growing global consensus regarding the need to ensure minimal labour standards, such as adequate safety and health conditions, freedom of association, and the prohibition of child labour, millions of workers across the world continue to work in horrific conditions. Who should be held responsible, both morally and legally, for protecting workers' rights? What moral and legal obligations should individuals and institutions bear towards foreign workers in their countries? Is there any democratic way to generate, regulate, and enforce labour standards in a global labour market? This book addresses these questions by taking a fresh look at the normative assumptions underlying existing and proposed international labour regulations. By focusing on international labour as a particular sphere of justice, it seeks to advance both the contemporary philosophical debate on global justice and the legal scholarship on international labour.

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  • Marx, A., Global Governance of Labour Rights : Assessing the Effectiveness of Transnational Public and Private Policy Initiatives, Cheltenham, UK, Northampton, MA, USA, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015.

    Marx, A., Global Governance of Labour Rights : Assessing the Effectiveness of Transnational Public and Private Policy Initiatives, Cheltenham, UK, Northampton, MA, USA, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015.

    This insightful book incorporates perspectives from several disciplines to provide a unique systematic analysis of emerging public and private initiatives in global labour rights governance. The expert contributors explore the complexities of labour rights governance in a global economy characterized by transnational supply chains. They assess how transnational, intergovernmental and private initiatives aim to address the challenges of global labour rights protection before discussing the effectiveness of these initiatives and presenting new empirical findings. The book concludes with a detailed reflection on how to strengthen the global regime of labour rights governance.

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Database

  • Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, International Labour Organization (ILO), by Heiko Sauer.
  • Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Labour Law, International, by F.C. Ebert and C. La Hovary.
  • The ILO Library page offers information about the ILO Library in Geneva as well as centralized access to the ILO's online resources. Available resources include more than thirty databases, the ILO Thesaurus, research and topical guides, and news services.
  • NORMLEX is the information system which brings together information on International Labour Standards (such as ratification information, reporting requirements, comments of the ILO's supervisory bodies, etc.) as well as national labour and social security laws.
  • Labordoc is the ILO's database of work-related journal articles. Labordoc provides all ILO publications, as well as comprehensive coverage of work-related material from more than 500 journals. Although Labordoc's coverage is comprehensive, it is not exhaustive, as articles are selected for inclusion. Further, Labordoc focuses its collection on material related to developing nations with an emphasis on empirical literature. The site's interface is available in English, French, and Spanish.
  • LABORSTA offers statistical data for 200 countries and territories arranged by topic, country, or publication. The site also provides thorough definitions and explanations of relevant terminology and methodology. The user can retrieve data for several countries simultaneously or over a selected time period.
  • EPLex summarizes national employment protection law for more than seventy countries, focusing on seven primary topics: the source and scope of regulation, employment contracts, substantive requirements for dismissals, procedural requirements for individual dismissals, collective dismissals for economic reasons, severance pay, and avenues for redress. Within these primary categories, EPLex monitors more than fifty variables. The information is presented in a uniform questionnaire format with references to the relevant legislation. One can browse EPLex by country or by topic.
  • The NATLEX database contains information on the national labour, social security, and human rights legislation of 196 countries. NATLEX presents sources arranged by country or area of law and offers an advanced search feature. Although NATLEX itself is accessible in the ILO's three official languages (English, French, and Spanish), each source is presented in only one of the three. NATLEX is maintained by the ILO International Labour Statistics Department.
  • The TRAVAIL legal database compiles information on employment and working condition laws. The site also provides helpful infosheets and illustrative maps. The scope of TRAVAIL is limited to laws related to working time, minimum wage, and maternity protection. Unlike NATLEX, TRAVAIL summarizes the information rather than retrieving the text of the legislation. One can browse by subject or by country and can select multiple countries and subjects for quick comparisons.
  • Triblex is the case law database of the ILO Administrative Tribunal. Triblex allows users to browse Tribunal case law by session, organization or keyword. The site also features an advanced search function which allows users to search by term, date, organization, session, keyword, or judgment number. Triblex also offers the enabling statute and rules of the Administrative Tribunal.
  • The ILO's SafeWork Bookshelf site contains four important resources. First, the ILO Encyclopedia of Occupational Health an Safety offers in-depth articles on occupational hazards and conditions. The Encyclopedia is arranged by topic in 18 parts over four volumes. The fourth volume contains helpful guides which explain how to use the encyclopedia. Second, the collection of International Chemical Safety Cards presents medical and safety information on a large number of chemicals, arranged alphabetically. Third, SafeWork Bookshelf compiles ILO Conventions and Recommendations related to occupational Health and Safety. Last, ILO Codes of Practice are guides which offer recommended practices on several occupational topics. Codes are prepared by experts and approved by the Governing Body. SafeWork Bookshelf is clearly organized and easy to navigate.
  • CISDoc is a database of bibliographic information on occupational health and safety materials including regulations, ILO conventions, books, and journal articles. Because CISDoc offers only bibliographic material, the results are citations and not full text documents.

Blogs

  • Dutch Parliamentary elections 2012: a more flexible Dutch dismissal system!

    Europe, Euro financial crisis, pension age, healthcare: a few hot topics during the Dutch Parliamentary elections 2012. Another main issue during the several political campaigns was reform of the Dutch dismissal law. This blog will briefly give a broad outline of the dismissal system in the Netherlands and the plans of reform.

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See also

More Research guides on Special Topics