Analysis and international comparison of selected labour standards

Diploma Thesis, 2003

82 Pages, Grade: 2,3 (B)





2.1 Definitorische und materielle Begriffsabgrenzung
2.2 Formen der Direktinvestitionen
2.3 Motive fur Direktinvestitionen
2.4 Partialansatze zur Erklarung von Direktinvestitionen
2.4.1 Makrookonomische Analyse
2.4.2 Standortanalyse
2.4.3 Mikrookonomische Analyse
2.5 Dunnings eklektischer Ansatz

3.1 Ziellander
3.2 Herkunftslander
3.3 Branchen

4.1 Politisches Risiko
4.2 Rechtliches und institutionelles Risiko
4.3 Fiskalische und monetare Stabilitat
4.4 Marktgrobe und Marktwachstum
4.5 Lohnkosten und Humankapital
4.6 Infrastrukturausstattung
4.7 Geographische Nahe und Agglomerationsvorteile
4.8 Privatisierungs- und Restrukturierungsprozess
4.9 Aubenhandelspolitik und rechtliche Restriktionen
4.10 Steuerliche und wirtschaftspolitische Anreize
4.11 Fazit

5.1 Grundsatzliche Auswirkungen
5.2 Einzellanderanalyse
5.2.1 Visegrad-Staaten Polen, Tschechien, Slowakei und Ungarn
5.2.2 Estland, Lettland und Litauen
5.2.3 Sonderfall Slowenien
5.2.4 Bulgarien und Rumanien
5.3 Fazit







Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1 Einleitung

Analysis and international comparison of selected labour standards

1. Initial Consideration
1.1 Definition
1.2 Main Objective and Structure

2. Countries
2.1 Globalisation
2.2 Trade Unions
2.3 Multinational Enterprises
2.4 International Organisations
2.4.1 International Labour Organisation

3. Core Labour Standards
3.1 Freedom of Association
3.2 Discrimination
3.3 Forced Labour
3.4 Child Labour
3.5 Ratification

4. Economic Efficiency and Core Labour Standards
4.1 Equilibrium without distortions
4.2 Core Labour Standards and the allocation of production factors
4.2.1 Economic Efficiency and Employment Discrimination
4.2.2 Economic Efficiency and Forced Labour
4.2.3 Economic Efficiency and Child Labour Exploitation
4.2.4 Economic Efficiency and Freedom of Association

5. Other Standards
5.1 Social Security
5.1.1 Unemployment Insurance
5.2 Hours of Work
5.3 Minimum Wage

6. Other reasons for adopting labour standards
6.1 Scissor-shaped labour supply curve
6.2 Public Goods
6.3 Externalities

7. Foreign Trade
7.1 Core Labour Standards and Trade
7.2 Foreign Direct Investment and Labour Standards
7.2.1 Labour Standards in Special Processing Zones
7.3 Sanctions
7.4 Labelling

8. Costs
8.1 Ehrenberg Model
8.2 Productivity

9. Conclusion
9.1 The Future of Labour Standards

10. Appendix

11. Sources

1. Initial Consideration

We view workers as trying to find the best possible job and assume that most firms are trying to make money. Workers and firms, therefore, enter the labour market with different objectives- workers are often trying to sell their labour at the highest price, whereas firms are often trying to buy labour at the lowest cost.

But this relationship between workers and firms involves much more than the exchange of a worker’s labour service for the payment of an hourly or monthly wage. Labour standards that guarantee appropriate working conditions and various forms of insurances [1] which protect workers are also provided as part of the employment relationship in most countries[2]. As a result of this, the employment relationship, which is one of the most fundamental relationships in our lives, attracts a good deal of legislative attention.

Wages and other terms of employment are not determined solely through market dealings between workers and employers. The types of economic exchanges that can occur between workers and firms are often limited by the set of basic rules that the government has enacted to regulate transactions in the labour market.

Therefore, three leading actors are in the labour market: workers, represented by labour unions, firms and the government.

Labour standards, which can be defined as “norms and rules that govern working conditions and industrial relations'’[3], should cover most workers and workplaces, and represent the minimum labour rights to which employees are entitled—a ground floor below which employers cannot go. They include issues such as the minimum wage, maximum hours of work, overtime pay, maternity leave, statutory holidays—in essence, an array of labour laws that allow workers to better balance work and family, protect their personal time, and earn a decent living under reasonable conditions.

In recognition of the fact that the relationship between a worker and an employer is not always an equal one, labour standards represent a collective agreement society negotiates on behalf of all workers[4].

But these collective agreements can also make business conditions predictable and accountable, allowing investment decisions to be taken on firm’s cognitive grounds.[5]

Thus, labour standards help to level the playing field for businesses. For example, a reasonable minimum wage means that employers who want to pay a decent wage are not put at a competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis employers wanting to pay poverty wages. Additionally, the International Labour Organisation convention “Termination of Employment” (#158, adopted in 1982), for instance, protects employers from excessive costs that may arise from worker dismissals.

Nevertheless, many employers and business associations are eager to see labour standards relaxed.

Especially the growing economic integration within regions has thrown a strong light on the international disparity in wages and labour costs, and the availability of efficient electronic telecommunications has narrowed the distance between the so-called First and Third World. Due to this, the question could come up if labour standards must be harmonized according to a universal guideline.

1.1 Definition

The term “labour standards” has two different meanings.[6] It refers to the actual terms and conditions of work, employment and welfare of workers at a particular point of time and place. By the use of statistics that show, for instance, wages, hours of work, national average level of education, social security and so on, the “what is the situation of the labour force” can be described. The other meaning is a more normative and prescriptive one. This connotation describes the “what should be the terms and conditions of work”.

It specifies the core labour standards, which will be the focus of a later chapter, and they also stipulate normative rules[7], such as minimum wage, maximum hours or paid holidays.[8] It is also useful to make a distinction between a „labour standard“ and a „labour right“.

A “labour standard“ is something we would strive for and prefer to have, whereas a „labour right“ is something that is not to be violated, even under the most extreme circumstances. “Labour standards” thus include “labour rights” but go beyond them.

1.2 Main Objective and Structure

In “analysis and international comparison of selected labour standards” we want to shed a light on several justifications for labour standards.

We will turn to the question if the growing globalisation of the world economy makes it even more important that countries stick to a universal code of international labour standards.

We also want to analyse why there is a need for countries to apply labour standards in order to remain or to become competitive.

In the first section we show that globalisation poses numerous challenges for the parties involved, like trade unions, policy makers both in developing countries and emerging economies and in developed countries. In this context of global economic integration and labour standards we additionally want to take a look at the very significant role now played by multinational enterprises.

Chapter 2 and chapter 3 deal with international organisations, especially the International Labour Organisation and its generally accepted small set of the so-called “core” labour standards.

Afterwards, we turn to the question, mainly judged from the production standpoint, if these core labour standards might possibly affect economic efficiency.

Chapter 5 focuses on some selected “other standards”, which are more controversial than core labour standards.

In section 6 we want to show that there are, apart from the protection of human rights, also economic reasons for adopting labour standards, like the financing of public goods or the presence of externalities. With the help of the ’Scissor-shaped’ labour supply model, for instance, it can be shown that labour standards play a very useful role by preventing the practice of sweating.

Foreign Trade is the topic of the following section, which shows that the level of labour standards can pave the way for the competitiveness of countries.

After that, we turn the spotlight on measures like sanctions and labelling, which serve to guarantee that labour standards are applied in all countries and companies.

In chapter 8 we focus on the costs of labour standards and show with the Ehrenberg model that at least some of these costs are shifted onto employees in form of lower wages and unemployment.

At the end we will give an outlook on international labour standards and the work of the International Labour Organisation in the future.

2. Countries

Today’s countries differ widely in size, climate, geographic characteristics, language and cultural traditions, and form of government.

But almost all nations have established labour standards, or minimal conditions among they believe individuals should be employed[9]. Examples are minimum wage and maximum hours laws, equal employment or antidiscrimination laws, and laws under which workers can be dismissed.

Also many less developed countries [10] already have labour legislation which, on paper at least, has little reason to envy those of the more advanced countries.

But even if labour standards in different countries have much in common, the level of labour standards evidently varies across countries, depending on cultural, political, and social preferences and conditions, as well as real income levels[11].

According to Alan (1992), the level of labour standards chosen by a particular country is ultimately a function of that country’s level of economic development and is therefore a domestic policy choice, which means that one should expect diversity in labour standards to be as the norm.

2.1 Globalisation

Globalisation has to attain a “human face ” (Kofi Annan).

Globalisation takes place in many ways. Citizens of different parts of the world have encountered one another, and have become aware of their respective life styles, working and living conditions, and needs. This has frequently provided the foundation on which to build mutual recognition and solidarity, leading to the emergence of principles and standards of social justice. The internationalisation of global economies has increased the importance of labour standards as a component of national and international economic policies for those countries that wish to maintain democratic institutions and prosperous economies[12]. The growing globalisation of the world economy makes it even more important that countries agree on a minimum package of international labour standards.

Thus, cross-national standards have been established in Europe, North America and Asia, within the framework of the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation.[13]

But especially the continuing debate over universal labour standards covers a wide range of issues.

Especially, the relations between developing and developed countries in the area of labour standards have been always ambivalent because each is convinced that, from the point of view of their impact on competitiveness [14], standards can generate either an advantage or disadvantage.

On the one hand some observers believe that the compensations and benefits provided to workers in developing countries are considerably less than those available in developed countries. This, they conclude, enables firms in the developing world to offer unbeatable prices.

Shirley Carr (1991, p.27), for examples, writes:

“When workers in some countries must- by force of hunger or at the point of a gun- work for starvation wages, then we cannot compete”.

There is a strong incentive to promote standards as a means of reducing what is perceived to be an unfair competitive advantage enjoyed by the developing countries in the matter of wages and prices.

The lack of a strict code of labour standards in developing countries has been seen in the more advanced countries as fostering unfair competition and, rightly or wrongly, as justifying the adoption of protectionist measures.

On the other hand, Bhagwati (1995) argues that the motivation for international labour standards is fundamentally protectionism. Other critics argue that, for instance, the campaign to make workers’ rights a part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an arrogant attempt by labour movements and inefficient industries in the developed countries to impose labour standards on other countries or “an attempt to justify protectionism under the guise of concern for workers’ rights’”[15] [16]

At the same time, opponents of labour standards in developing countries note that, thanks to the incomparably more favourable productivity performance of the advanced economies, companies in the latter are able to offer prices much lower than those offered by firms in the developing world.

Thus the concerns regarding labour standards are twofold.

Though these arguments lead to conflicting viewpoints, they do agree that local firms cannot face foreign competition alone and that massive job losses will follow.

In either case, governments are urged to intervene in order to forestall this threat.

One fundamental weakness in the application of protective legislation is the existence of a large labour surplus.

Nowadays the total population of the World is 6,318,400,000, most of them in Third World nations.[17] [18]

A large labour surplus could cause an increase in unemployment. A high unemployment rate[19] could especially harm the implementation of international labour standards in many countries.[20] Thus, it is not surprising that the proposals made by some developed countries in favour of a worldwide upgrading of labour standards are welcomed with less than full enthusiasm by the developing countries.

Nevertheless, fighting unemployment should not be used as an excuse for doing away with reasonable working condition for those already employed.[21]

For the progress of any of the international labour standards, the promotion of full and productive employment is needed.[22] But this cannot be achieved without macroeconomic policies, which require internationally coordinated management to raise global demand.

The question comes up if labour standards should rather be left to the individual countries.

In the case of developed countries the adjustment of standards is not externally imposed on their governments and people but takes place, in most cases, after intense public debate and parliamentary approval.

In contrast, the adjustments in developing countries are often externally imposed by, for instance, the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.

In spite of that, humanitarian considerations have always had a profound influence on the unanimous wish to establish minimum and reasonable labour standards everywhere.

2.2 Trade Unions

One of the advantages of government regulation is that it provides protection for all workers, including the unorganised. But neither government regulation nor the individual contract can be a substitute for rules drawn up by a collective voice.[23]

Nevertheless, what a union is and what it does varies greatly from country to country.

The employees or their representatives in each country have a very different historical basis and prerequisites.[24] In most countries of the “third world”, unions are weakly organised and highly political.[25] Quite a number of governments in developing countries have viewed trade unions as political opposition.

Unions in the “American” sense are limited largely to northern and Western Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan. But even within this range of countries, there are marked differences in union strength and bargaining procedures.

Nevertheless, a challenge for all trade unions is the changing nature of the employer.

The effects of globalisation have contributed to a reduction of the trade union strength because of new strategic opportunities for capital, such as the relocation of production and services across national borders, but not for labour.

Higher joblessness has caused a decline in trade union membership in many countries and unions have also failed to attract young people. Additionally, trade unions have had difficulties in organising the expanding modern sectors, such as the information and communication technologies.

The drop in financial resources as a result of this decline in membership partly explains the many mergers among unions (such as banks and insurances in Denmark).[26] All this and the suppression of unions in many developing countries have weakened trade unions in favour of international labour standards.

But trade unions are still the main stakeholder when it comes to improving labour conditions. The trade union power at the national and international level can be enhanced by the formation of alliances with other NGOs that are active in the labour and social policies field.[27] Cross-border cooperation between workers’ organisations is not a new phenomenon. Trade unions have responded to the increasing globalisation of the economy by opening up their strategies, activities, procedures and structures to a new international dimension.[28]

2.3 Multinational Enterprises

The weakness of the trade unions has “'put the fate of the social dialogue more often in the hands of the employers’\[29] Concerns about the effects of the increasing globalisation of the world economy have led to raised voices from a large public audience, including non­governmental, humanitarian organisations. It is often argued that internationalisation has weakened the ability of trade unions, governments and workers themselves to protect traditional labour standards from competitive market forces. The opening of national boundaries to the international economy has intensified competition. New information, communication and transportation technologies have made it easier and faster to trade, and to move production across national and regional borders [30] Questions about the internal and external regulation of corporations have arisen sharply in the context of global economic integration and the very significant role now played by multinational enterprises.

Amnesty International (2002) stated in a recent report on this topic:

“Many transnational corporations operate in countries with repressive administrations where the rule of the law is weak, where the independence of the judiciary is questionable, and where arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and extra-judicial executions occur. The government may ban free trade union activity and deny its citizens freedom of association. Factory workers in plants from which companies source their products may be subject to inhuman and degrading working conditions”

Therefore, international organisations and national governments bear the responsibility for social progress in nationally and also internationally operating firms.

The OECD, for instance, has made a significant contribution through its Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. These guidelines, which were completed in June 2000, are recommendations on responsible business conduct addressed by governments to multinational enterprises in, or from, all OECD countries[31] plus Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Due to this, a number of high profile firms have adopted codes in relation to their own employees and their key production suppliers.[32] In the United States, for instance, most Fortune 5 0 0[33] companies have adopted codes of conduct or internal guidelines, dealing with a variety of matters, including labour standards. According to the OECD (2000) over 60% of the top 500 companies in the UK have similar codes, a decade ago the figure was 18%.[34][34]

2.4 International Organisations

International agreements on labour standards may prevent the depression of labour conditions.

Adhering to standards worldwide becomes a matter of governance. It needs nothing short of a global social contract to ensure fair access to markets and the participation of all countries. While labour standards exist concerning a broad range of labour market issues, there is no single set of standards with universal coverage in terms of content or geography. There is no international law in the strict sense, i.e. one that is entrusted with the authority of enforcing the norms throughout the world.

But legal sovereignty does not mean that nations are autonomous in their choice of social policy[35] There have been wide-ranging developments not only at the national level but also at international levels. The inefficiency of decentralised policy making and domestic political economy of trade policy have been seen as a motive for the adoption of universal labour standards.

Nowadays labour standards with force of law may be established by national governments or international bodies such as the European Union.

Labour unions, which have for a long time championed labour standards in the name of human rights and social justice within the countries where they were active, have passed on their responsibilities at the international level to other organisations.

The American trade union AFL-CIO, for instances, has strongly supported the introduction of labour standards throughout the world, mostly in countries which are engaged in trade with the United States.

But at the same time, some observers fear that a couple of the hard-fought rights, which workers in industrialised countries have earned, may be lost.

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), for example, raises concerns that when countries improve wage levels and working conditions, manufacturers move production to countries with cheaper labour and less stringent labour legislation.[36]

Many people have criticised the variety of organisations dealing with labour standards because the coherence of standard setting, monitoring and control might be lost.

There would be the risk that actors, who set up their own standards, might restrict their own concern to the fundamental standards and neglect social standards.

But which international organisation might be the appropriate body and should deal with labour standards? Should an internationally recognised set of labour standards be enforced, for instance, with trade disciplines in the World Trade Organisation or should the enforcement be the exclusive domain of, for instance, the International Labour Organisation? On the trade side, the hope is that the WTO will stimulate a better trading environment for all countries. On the labour side, the hope is that labour standards can continually be improved for most if not for the entire world’s working people.

There are fears that these goals may be difficult to achieve simultaneously.

Social progress and economic growth do not automatically develop at the same pace.

When does “free trade” give way to “fair trade”?

When does the pursuit of one labour standard (e.g. free collective bargaining) take precedence over another (e.g. full employment)?[37]

Some observers argue that the WTO might be an appropriate body for enforcing labour standards. The case for using the enforcement power of the WTO rests on the implicit assumption that ILO enforcement is extremely weak. They wish to see the ILO as both legislator and judge, with the WTO, the OECD and other international organisations as a law enforcer.

The question of linking labour standards to the process of further trade liberalisation set in motion by a Multilateral Trade Agreement through a social clause was among the most controversial facing the WTO. However, the debate on the social clause had been dominated by those with a vested interest in keeping standards low.

In December 1996, Trade Ministers issued a Declaration on core labour standards at the First WTO Ministerial Meeting, held in Singapore (WTO (1996)):

“We renew our commitment to the observance of internationally recognised core labour standards. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is the competent body to set and deal with these standards, and we affirm our support for its work in promoting them. We believe that economic growth and development fostered by increased trade and further trade liberalisation contribute to the promotion of these standards. We reject the use of labour standards for protectionist purposes, and agree that the comparative advantage of countries, particularly low-wage developing countries, must in no way be out into question. In the regard, we note that the WTO and ILO Secretariats will continue their existing collaboration.”[38]

2.4.1 International Labour Organisation

As a United Nations agency, the International Labour Organisation is the competent body to set and deal with labour standards because it contributes most to the emergence and generalisation of globalised standards and principles of social justice.

The ILO, which was founded in 1919 after World War I, has always insisted that economic growth alone does not suffice to ensure improvements of working and living conditions of the labour force.[39]

Therefore, the development of a global system of labour standards and its definition are the principal purposes behind the creation of the ILO.

The ILO is characterised by its tripartite structure, namely, that it comprises representatives not only from governments but also from employers’ and workers'organisations from 177[40] member countries.[41]

The ILO, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1969, can choose among a variety of instruments, including conventions, recommendations, resolutions, conclusions and declarations.[42] [43]

A two-thirds majority of votes in the International Labour Conference from worker, employer and government delegates representing the ILO member states is needed to adopt an ILO instrument.[44]

This structure therefore forced a high degree of dialogue as basis for most of the arguments for and against proposals.[45] “If there is no struggle, there is no progress”.

The standards are relevant for all countries.

The ILO tries to stimulate national action, in accord with international agreements, towards the achievement of a universal minimum standard of satisfactory labour conditions[46] But one problem with universal labour standards has been the growing membership, especially from less developed countries, because standards that made sense within the Western club were beyond the capacity of Second and Third World societies.

It is not optimal to force all countries in the world to align their standards with those of the developed countries.

Many developing countries are restrained by financial resources, professional competence and a lack of administrative capacity in order to realise international labour standards.[47] Most of the world’s economies are too poor to assure labour standards for the majority of their people, and even in rich countries, these standards are not guaranteed to everyone.[48] The former United States’ Secretary of Labour, Robert Reich[49] once said in a speech:

“It is inappropriate to dictate uniform levels of working hours, minimum wages, benefits, or health and safety standards. The developing countries’ insistence that they must grow richer in order to afford American or European labour standards - and that they must trade - is essentially correct

The February 9, 2000 edition of the Financial Times, for example, stated that people in developing countries need jobs and income, not human rights.

The developing countries have generally insisted that they must remain free to determine for themselves the standards that best meet their own level of development.[50]

For instance, it was pointed out that the development concepts of the World Bank in Africa failed because they ignored the indigenous cultural prerequisites of development.[51]

Thus, the ILO has to take the wide variety of political, social and economic conditions in member states into account. If wages are extremely low in a country, people are less inclined to pay for labour standards.

In making conventions and recommendations, which together form the “international labour code”, more flexible and more adaptive to different national conditions, especially Second and Third World countries that joined the ILO from the 1950s, have become less demanding. But also the First World has claimed that increased "flexibility" will increase competitiveness and thus enhance job growth.

Differences in national conditions and levels of development should be taken into account by the inclusion of appropriate flexible devices - though basic human rights conventions should be exempted.

The growing integration of societies and economies has succeeded in reducing poverty in many countries. But this has happened mainly because economic improvement in China and India. The share of the world’s population living in absolute poverty has declined somewhat, but the absolute number of poor people has not.

See OECD (1995)

Today it is Elaine L. Chao

According to Andre Raynauld and Jean-Pierre Vidal (1998)

According to Diawara (2000), p. 101

Flexibility devices include: the possibility of ratifying conventions in parts; the acceptance of alternative parts containing more or less strict requirements; limitations on scope; “escalator” clauses permitting the gradual raising of the level of protection or the extension of the scope of protection; temporary exceptions; and flexibility in the methods of application.[52] [53]

Today, in the case of several important conventions a special standard lower than the main standard is provided for countries which could not possibly reach the main standard.

The Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention # 102, for example, can be ratified by complying with the obligation in respect of three out of ten branches of social security specified in the convention.

Thus, the objective is to work towards “universality” of labour standards, not uniformity.

3. Core Labour Standards

Which labour standards matter most?

The ILO itself recognises that it has not set priorities among the various conventions and recommendations, even though some may conflict with others.[54] [55] However, the international community has made significant progress in developing a consensus with respect to the definition and recognition of a small set of the so-called “core” labour standards. There is increasing agreement on the need to harmonize these core labour standards, which guarantee the granting of basic human rights. The other standards, on which we focus in a later chapter, are often seen as complementary.

Now the most widely accepted standards are embodied in the ILO conventions[56] and several UN acts.

Core labour standards and their operational implications have also taken on heightened importance for the World Bank, within its mandate on poverty reduction and economic and social development because core labour standards can be established without regard to level of economic development. [57]

International instruments such as the ILO’s fundamental conventions and the 1998 ILO Declaration play an important role in setting internationally-recognised norms for core labour standards.

According to the 1998 ILO Declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work:

... all Members, even if they have not ratified the Conventions in question, have an obligation arising from the very fact of membership in the Organisation, to respect, to promote and, to realize, in good faith and in accordance with the Constitution, the principles concerning the fundamental rights which are subject of those Conventions, namely: freedom of association, elimination offorced labour, elimination of discrimination and abolition of child labour.

In the following section we want to focus on these conventions in more detail.

3.1 Freedom of Association

“Workers and employers shall have the right to form and join organisations of their own choosing without interference from public authorities. Where multiple organisations are established, workers and employers shall be free to join any of them’"

(Convention Freedom of association # 87, adopted 1948).

“ Workers shall enjoy protection against antiunion discrimination, both when hired and throughout their term of employment. Member states shall promote voluntary negotiation between unions and employer on the terms and conditions of employment"

(Convention Right to organise and bargain collectively # 98, adopted 1948).

But freedom of association standards, principles and procedures have not only been used to maintain and promote the right of the social partners - employers' and workers'organisations - to bargain collectively on terms and conditions of employment and other issues of occupational concern, they also offer support and guidance to countries around the world which have sought to introduce democracy. Furthermore, these standards should protect individual workers against discrimination based on the exercise of their associational rights and secure the release from detention and arrest of trade unionists and employers’ representatives alike[58].

Freedom of association and trade union rights are a “determining factor in the application of standards" [59] "

3.2 Discrimination

The term discrimination is often used imprecisely because the relationship between prejudice and discrimination is often unclear.

Discrimination occurs whenever someone’s opportunities are not based on his or her individual capabilities but are limited because of membership in a group.

Thus, it exists in many areas, including housing and education as well as in the labour market.

Labour market discrimination happens when members of one group have lower earnings than another and when those earnings differentials cannot be attributed to any productivity differences between the two groups.

To overcome this problem the ILO established the convention “Prohibition of employment discrimination” (Convention # 111) in 1951 which states that member states shall eliminate discrimination in access to employment and training on the basis of race, gender, national origin, and religious or political belief.

Additionally, the convention “Equal pay for men and women” (Convention # 100, adopted 1958) states that members shall promote equal pay for men and women of equal value.

But virtually everywhere in the world there is gender inequality with respect to the quality of jobs and the level of earnings.[60]

For example, employers justify the low proportion of women employed by arguing that “women are absent due to child birth, they lose training, and it is hard and difficult for ladies to work long hours'\[61] However, in some countries, like Germany, paid leave for new parents, for example, can also be taken by men.

3.3 Forced Labour

The Constitution of the ILO declares that “all human beings... have the right to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity”.

Due to this, the ILO member states shall prohibit compulsory labour[62] in all forms.

Forced labour is that “exacted from any person under menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily” (Convention # 29, adopted 1930).

The member states shall not use compulsory labour as political coercion, punishment for political views, retaliation for union activity, workforce mobilisation, labour discipline, or racial or other forms of discrimination (Convention # 105, adopted 1957).

Nowadays, examples for forced labour are persons in prison awaiting trial and other unconvicted prisoners, who are compelled to perform prison labour.[63] Another example is that sometimes newly qualified persons in a narrow range of professions, in particular young doctors, dentists and pharmacists and occasionally engineers, are required to exercise their profession for a certain period in a post assigned to them by the authorities.

The forced labour conventions are the ILO instruments that have been ratified by the largest number of countries.[64]

3.4 Child Labour

The ILO expressed in its convention “Minimum age of work” (Convention # 138, 1973) that ordinary work should not be performed by children younger than the last age of compulsory schooling, and on no account by children under 15.

Furthermore, the worst form of child labour exploitation, including slavery, debt bondage, all forced or compulsory labour, and the sale or trafficking of children, particularly for illegal activities, is prohibited (Convention “Prompt elimination of the worst forms of child labour” # 182, 1999).

The ILO in 2002 renewed its commitment to eliminate child labour and identified therefore three categories to be abolished in its Global Report on the issue:

- Labour performed by a child who is under a minimum age, specified in national legislation for that kind of work.
- Hazardous work that compromises the physical, mental or moral being of a child.
- The unconditional worst forms of child labour, which include slavery, debt bondage and similar practises, sex work and illicit activities.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


[1] These insurances include, for example, unemployment, health care, and retirement income insurances (pensions).

[2] According to Ronald G. Ehrenberg (1994), p. 5

[3] According to the OECD (1996b), p. 25

[4] “It is easier for an employer to replace recalcitrant workers than for employees to “replace” a recalcitrant employer, especially when unemployment is high” (Stiglitz, 2001).

[5] According to Werner Sengenberger (2002), p. 10

[6] According to Dr. Werner Sengenberger (2002), p. 30

[7] Often called economic and social rights of workers, or also social standards.

[8] To go further, labour standards might in turn be classified into those relating to freedom of association, abolition of child labour, elimination of forced labour and anti-discrimination laws, called “core or fundamental labour standards”, and those governing labour market practices such as minimum wage and working hours, and those pertaining to social insurance programmes (OECD, 1995).

[9] According to Roland G. Ehrenberg (1994), p. 39

[10] Less developed countries include all countries in Africa, Asia (excluding Japan), and Latin America and the Caribbean, and the regions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. More developed countries include all countries in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

[11] According to Brown et al (1998)

[12] According to Ray Marshall (1994), p. 65

[13] According to Ulrich Muckenberger, (1994), pp. 132-133

[14] The „official“ definition of the OECD of a nation’s competitiveness is „the degree to which a country can, under free and fair market conditions, produce goods and services which meet the test of international markets, while simultaneously maintaining and expanding the real incomes of its people over the long term“.

[15] According to Stell (1994), p. 14

[16] It has to be stressed that almost all NAFTA countries, including the United States, Canada and Mexico, are members of the ILO. Moreover, Mexico, who has adopted more ILO Conventions than the U.S., has many superior labour laws than the U.S.

[17] According to the International Programs Center, U.S. Bureau of the Census (18.09.03).

[18] See appendix for more information (Table A 2.1, "World population growth, 1750-2150).

[19] The unemployment rate can be defined as the number of unemployed divided by the number in the labour force, where the labour force is all those who are either employed or unemployed. But it has to be mentioned that in some countries, like Germany, people in a job creation scheme, for instance, are not counted unemployed and in other countries they are seen as unemployed.

[20] A table of unemployment rates of selected countries is given in the appendix (Table A 2.2).

[21] According to Werner Sengenberger (2002), p. 12

[22] Goal of the ILO Convention # 122.

[23] According to Young-Ki Park (1994), p. 217

[24] According to Wolfgang Weber (2001), p. 255

[25] See Lloyd G. Reynolds (1991)

[26] According to the World Labour Report 1997-98, ILO (1997), p. 22

[27] According Werner Sengenberger (2002), p. 84

[28] See World Labour Report 1997-98, ILO (1997), p. 37

[29] According to Lord Wedderburn (1994), p. 253

[30] According to Werner Sengenberger (2002), p. 8

[31] 30 member countries, internet posting:, (04.11.2003)

[32] According to Jill Murray, Bureau for Workers' Activities (ILO)

[33] Fortune 500 - Fortune Magazine ranking of the United States’500 largest manufactures (Econoterms)

[34] Nevertheless, some of these companies have adopted the codes to improve their image or to deflect criticism about anti­social conduct.

[35] According to Werner Sengenberger and Duncan Campbell (1994), pp. 6-7

[36] According to the ICFTU: internet posting: (30.06.2003)

[37] According to the OECD (1995)

[38] See OECD (2000), p. 60

[39] According to Werner Sengenberger (2002), p. 8

[40] According to the ILO: 177 member states (August 2003), internet posting:

[41] See R. Blanpain and C. Engels (1995)

[42] According to Guy Caire (1994), p. 311

[43] According to Herbert Feis (1994), p. 51: Conventions, once ratified, are strict documents. A ratifying country gives a pledge that its national law will be brought into conformity with the terms of the convention. Recommendations, on the contrary, never become international treaties, and do not require that States give any international pledge.

[44] The fact that, for instances, San Marino and the USA have exactly the same number of votes has never been considered as a problem.

[45] According to John Braithwaite and Peter Drahos (2000), p. 233

[46] According to Herbert Feis (1994), p. 30

[47] 2 According to G. Chike Okoguw (1994), p. 149

[48] The practice of setting certain minimum standards throughout a group of countries while allowing individual countries to set their own levels above the minimum or set standards on other matters is sometimes called “the principle of mutual recognition”.

[49] According to van Liemt (1989)

[50] According to Hans-Goran Myrdal (1994), p. 343: The Convention # 45, for example, prohibits all underground work by women in mines, but this convention became a serious obstacle to the policy of equality between men and women.

[51] They are commonly referred to as the “international labour standards”.

[52] According to the OECD (2000)

[53] See David Tajgman and Karen Curtis, International Labour Office (2000)

[54] According to Pouyat (1982), p. 287

[55] According to Werner Sengenberger (2002), p. 22

[56] According to Stahl and Stalmaker (2002), p. 74

[57] Most ILO texts on forced labour refer to “forced or compulsory labour”. While the term “compulsory” may be wider and at times more appropriate than the term “forced”, the latter has been traditionally used in official documents and common language.

[58] This was done in Togo, Zaire and Columbia (according to the ILO World Labour Report 1985).

[59] See Table 3.1: Ratifications of the Fundamental human rights Conventions by continent (countries).

[60] Nevertheless, a temporary exception allowing light work as early as age 12 is permitted for very poor countries with underdeveloped educational systems.

[61] According to Stahl and Stalmaker (2002), p. 74

[62] Most ILO texts on forced labour refer to “forced or compulsory labour”. While the term “compulsory” may be wider and at times more appropriate than the term “forced”, the latter has been traditionally used in official documents and common language.

[63] This was done in Togo, Zaire and Columbia (according to the ILO World Labour Report 1985).

[64] See Table 3.1: Ratifications of the Fundamental human rights Conventions by continent (countries).

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Analysis and international comparison of selected labour standards
University of Paderborn  (International Economic Relations)
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Carsten Garus (Author), 2003, Analysis and international comparison of selected labour standards, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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