Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Adelle Blackett and Anne Trebilcock
Chapter 16: Transnational labour law and collective autonomy for marginalized workers: Reflections on decent work for domestic workers
The emerging critical tradition in transnational labour law has fruitfully engaged with the literature on collective autonomy. Autonomy has come to be understood as relational, rather than individualistic, and is a capability to be supported and enhanced through the freedom of association and right to bargain collectively. The example of domestic workers—who have been at the centre of a flurry of recent international mobilization—demonstrates the importance of autonomy to transnational labour law. Domestic workers make social reproduction possible in market economies, yet they have faced exclusion from the corpus of labour law. As this reality is progressively reversed, more must be done than simply extending state ‘protection,’ while remaining oblivious to collective autonomy. In this respect, international instruments such as ILO Convention No. 189 and Recommendation No. 201, which account for the specificity of domestic work, offer helpful guidance. These new international standards were partly influenced by France’s national collective agreements (CCNs), and they should continue to inform the development of the effective exercise of collective autonomy by all domestic workers, including migrant domestic workers, in France.
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