What Implications for the ‘European Social Model’?
Edited by Marie-Ange Moreau
Chapter 5: Transnationalism and Labour Law: The ‘British Jobs’ Protests of 2009
Bernard Ryan In his writing, Brian Bercusson often questioned the disciplinary foundations of labour law. This was evident for example in the introduction to the 1987 textbook on British labour law which he co-authored with Roger Benedictus: Currently, British labour law starts from the assumption that the legal concepts and institutional forms which govern the organisation of work and workers are the subject-matter of labour law. The alternative starting-point . . . proposed here is that the subject-matter of labour law is work and workers . . .1 A similar outlook lay at the heart of his subsequent focus on European Union labour law. The preface to the first edition to European Labour Law, published in 1996, argued that labour law could no longer be conceptualised solely in national terms: The aim of this book is to build on the vision of European labour law passed on by comparativists. Their perspective of different national labour law systems focused on comparison, mutual influences, transplantation, and so on. But national, not a transnational, European labour law was the centre of their attention. The argument of the book is that European labour law now has come into its own, as a complex distillation of national labour laws into something original and distinct – and genuinely European in character.2 This chapter aims to draw upon the insights that labour law analysis may fruitfully start from labour market developments, and that national labour laws are influenced by transnational forces. It will do so by an examination of the two main labour...