Research Handbook on Transnational Labour Law
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Research Handbook on Transnational Labour Law

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.
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Chapter 8: International financial institutions’ approaches to labour law: The case of the International Monetary Fund

Franz Christian Ebert


This chapter examines the different facets of the IMF’s approach to labour law, which influences countries well beyond the ‘conditionality’ of the IMF’s financial assistance. It highlights the ambiguous nature of the IMF’s discourse on labour law according to which no contradiction exists between the IMF’s policy prescriptions and workers’ interests. The chapter illustrates that even though the IMF has occasionally supported minor improvements of labour standards, the dominant thrust of the IMF’s engagement with labour law has been on – often sweeping – deregulation. Furthermore, a number of inconsistencies between the IMF’s discourse and the related practice are discussed. Both the IMF’s approach in general and the said inconsistencies may, in part, be explained by the ideological bias of IMF staff towards deregulation, but also by other factors. The latter include internal IMF politics as well as external pressures, such as those exerted by social movements, which has sometimes led the IMF to depart from its standard policy prescriptions. It is precisely the IMF’s vulnerability to such external pressure that opens avenues for advocating for alternatives to the current IMF approach to labour law.

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