Table of Contents

Research Handbook on Transnational Labour Law

Research Handbook on Transnational Labour Law

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by Adelle Blackett and Anne Trebilcock

The editors’ substantive introduction and the specially commissioned chapters in the Handbook explore the emergence of transnational labour law as a field, along with its contested contours. The expansion of traditional legal methods, such as treaties, is juxtaposed with the proliferation of contemporary alternatives such as indicators, framework agreements and consumer-led initiatives. Key international and regional institutions are studied for their coverage of such classic topics as freedom of association, equality, and sectoral labour standard-setting, as well as for the space they provide for dialogue. The volume underscores transnational labour law’s capacity to build bridges, including on migration, climate change and development.

Chapter 26: Thickening soft law through consumocratic law: A pragmatic approach

P. Martin Dumas

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, labour, employment law, public international law

Abstract

The set of rules contained in the increasing number of independent codes of conduct used as instruments of corporate governance that are enforced through demand-side, market-based mechanisms can be described as consumocratic law. In contrast with ex ante expressions of citizen preferences for particular socio-economic forms of regulation through the electoral sphere, here consumocrats (i.e. consumers) play an ex post role, and choose to purchase goods according to non-traditional criteria embodied in labelled codes. The substance of these is not confined to ‘process information’ as described by the WTO, but may also pertain to eco-systems, animals, military technologies, wage inequities, and labour conditions—in particular, those of children. One of the most sophisticated regimes of consumocratic labour law was developed by Rugmark in 1994 in Uttar Pradesh, India. Carpets bearing the Rugmark label are certified as child-labour free, and Rugmark rehabilitates former child weavers uncovered by its inspectors and manages free schools in Uttar Pradesh. Thanks to Rugmark and its consumocratic regime, the illegality of child labour in the carpet belt has been progressively recognised and thousands of deprived (working and non-working) children have had free access to a primary education of relatively good quality, many of them having subsequently engaged in higher studies. The Rugmark code, however, is not without potential concerns or limitations, due to its originality, and, when used to strictly enforce state-defined prohibitions, in the absence of a pragmatic approach, may even lead to unintended consequences, including contributing to driving child labour further underground, in some instances.

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