Workers' Rights in the Era of Globalisation: How Protective Are International Labour Standards

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Funmi ADEWUMI , Labour Studies & Human Rights Education, Windhoek, Nigeria
International labour standards, coded in Conventions and Recommendations, remain the main instruments employed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to ensure that people work in dignified and humane conditions. These instruments contain minimum conditions under which workers offer their labour power while also conferring on them some basic rights. This paper looks at these international instruments and the extent to which they have been able to protect workers’ rights, particularly in the context of a global economic order driven by the desperate quest of international finance capital for competitiveness, profitability and survival. It is argued that rather than complying with the provisions of the labour standards, investors and employers usually insist on lowering them because they view them as inhibitions to the workings of the free market economy. Given the inadequacies of these standards, lowering them would further spell doom for working people all over the world. The situation is worse in developing countries, where governments, lacking the political will to protect their own people, leave workers almost totally at the mercy of employers who put the health and lives of workers in jeopardy. The end result is that the lot of the working people has worsened under the neo-liberal economic agenda. It is thus concluded that working people, their organisations and allies need to embark on a concerted struggle to force employers and governments to respect their rights as enshrined in international labour standards and national legislation. It is one way of realizing the decent work agenda being pursued by the ILO as well ensuring the well being of the worker-citizen.