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The Many Concepts of Social Justice in European Private Law

The Many Concepts of Social Justice in European Private Law

Edited by Hans-W. Micklitz

This insightful book, with contributions from leading international scholars, examines the European model of social justice in private law that has developed over the 20th century.

Chapter 14: Labour Relations and the Concept of Social Justice in the European Union

Marie-Ange Moreau

Subjects: law - academic, european law, private international law


Marie-Ange Moreau Appealing to the notion of social justice in the European Union poses a significant challenge, such is the difficulty of mapping its contours – something which is, at the very least, paradoxical and disturbing for such a fundamental concept in the context of labour law. Social justice is an objective which, in the context of labour relations, is inspired both by the notion of commutative justice, to the extent that it applies to the definition of the obligations of the parties to an employment contract, and by the notion of distributive justice, as it is concerned with correcting the structural inequalities linked to employer power by the introductions of specific rights, in particular collective rights. It therefore has both structural and procedural aspects. Its importance should not be underestimated; it is not to overstate the case to suggest that the objective of social justice is what inspires the development of social norms, in particular labour law, whether passed at the national or regional level. Social justice also lies at the very heart of the international development of labour law. It has been the central constitutional objective of the International Labour Organization (ILO) since 1919, reiterated in the Philadelphia Declaration of 1944.1 The central goal of any national or international policy should be to allow all human beings to pursue ‘both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity’. The Philadelphia Declaration thus clearly affirms that the orientation of...

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