Global Governance of Labour Rights
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Global Governance of Labour Rights

Assessing the Effectiveness of Transnational Public and Private Policy Initiatives

Edited by Axel Marx, Jan Wouters, Glenn Rayp and Laura Beke

This insightful book incorporates perspectives from several disciplines to provide a unique systematic analysis of emerging public and private initiatives in global labour rights governance. The expert contributors explore the complexities of labour rights governance in a global economy characterized by transnational supply chains. They assess how transnational, intergovernmental and private initiatives aim to address the challenges of global labour rights protection before discussing the effectiveness of these initiatives and presenting new empirical findings. The book concludes with a detailed reflection on how to strengthen the global regime of labour rights governance.
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Chapter 7: Trade unions and collective bargaining power in global labor governance

Sigrid Koch-Baumgarten and Melanie Kryst


In the days of the national welfare state, which were also the days of a ‘national unionism’ (van der Linden 2000), trade unions were the driving force in governing working conditions and defending labor rights around the world. Regulations within the frontiers of the nation state were set up by means of legal enactment and collective bargaining. From the outset, trade unions also sought to establish international regulations, which ranged from minimum standards in the International Labour Organization (ILO) and social clauses in foreign trade agreements (Scherrer and Greven 2001) to transnational cooperation in collective bargaining (Koch-Baumgarten 1998a, 2006a). Governance research has recently begun to focus on how labor governance is shifting from the national to the global level. The debate focuses on a number of issues, such as how to govern the global economy, which has long been considered ‘ungovernable’ (Habermas 1998), the reasons and mechanisms of the emerging global governance scheme (Bartley 2007; Vogel 2008), and how to incorporate democracy and the efficiency of global norms (Benz and Papadopoulos 2006; Stevis and Boswell 2008). Researchers are also discussing new forms of private governance and public-private initiatives involving the state and networks of non-state actors.

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