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Workers, Collectivism and the Law

Grappling with Democracy

Laura Carlson

Workers, Collectivism and the Law offers a captivating historical account of worker democracy, from its beginnings in European guild systems to present-day labor unions, across the national legal systems of Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Analysing these legal systems in light of a Habermasian concept of participatory democracy, Laura Carlson identifies ways to strengthen individual employee voice in claims against employers.
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Chapter 7: International influences and congruences

Laura Carlson


Starting as ad hoc efforts by states and individuals to gain legal protections with respect to slavery, indenture and servitude, the focus of international efforts expanded to the conditions of workers more generally. These gradually evolved into strong cooperations motivated by the devastation caused by two world wars, beginning with the League of Nations and the ILO. Labor organizations had already begun cooperations in the late nineteenth century; these eventually became the international trade union confederations in existence today. Certain employee rights are now recognized as human rights on the international level by the UN and the ILO, and also on regional levels, including the EU, COE, and OAS. The rights recognized have also become more nuanced, beginning with limitations to the working day and night work protections and moving on to include issues of worker voice and not only the right to join a union, but also rights of consultation and negotiation.

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