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Labor rights or workers' rights are a group of legal rights and claimed human rights having to do with labor relations between workers and their employers, usually obtained under labor and employment law. In general, these rights' debates have to do with negotiating workers' pay, benefits, and safe working conditions. One of the most central of these rights is the right to unionize. Unions take advantage of collective bargaining and industrial action to increase their members' wages and otherwise change their working situation. Labor rights can also take in the form of worker's control and worker's self management in which workers have a democratic voice in decision and policy making. The labor movement initially focused on this "right to unionize", but attention has shifted elsewhere.
Human rights are "the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled" Examples of rights and freedoms which are often thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life, liberty, and property, freedom of expression, pursuit of happiness and equality before the law; and social, cultural and economic rights, including the right to participate in science and culture, the right to work, and the right to education.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Labor relations is a field of study that can have different meanings depending on the context in which it is used. In an international context, it is a subfield of labor history that studies the human relations with regard to work – in its broadest sense – and how this connects to questions of social inequality. It explicitly encompasses unregulated, historical, and non-Western forms of labor. Here, labor relations define "for or with whom one works and under what rules. These rules determine the type of work, type and amount of remuneration, working hours, degrees of physical and psychological strain, as well as the degree of freedom and autonomy associated with the work."
Occupational safety and health (OSH), also commonly referred to as occupational health and safety (OHS), occupational health, or workplace health and safety (WHS), is a multidisciplinary field concerned with the safety, health, and welfare of people at work. These terms also refer to the goals of this field, so their use in the sense of this article was originally an abbreviation of occupational safety and health program/department etc.
Critics of the labor rights movement claim that regulation promoted by labor rights activists may limit opportunities for work. In the United States, critics objected to unions establishing closed shops, situations where employers could only hire union members. The Taft–Hartley Act banned the closed shop but allowed the less restrictive union shop. Taft–Hartley also allowed states to pass right-to-work laws, which require an open shop where a worker's employment is not affected by his or her union membership. Labor counters that the open shop leads to a free rider problem.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
A pre-entry closed shop is a form of union security agreement under which the employer agrees to hire union members only, and employees must remain members of the union at all times in order to remain employed. This is different from a post-entry closed shop, which is an agreement requiring all employees to join the union if they are not already members. In a union shop, the union must accept as a member any person hired by the employer.
The Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 29 U.S.C. § 141-197, better known as the Taft–Hartley Act, is a United States federal law that restricts the activities and power of labor unions. The act, still effective, was sponsored by Senator Robert A. Taft and Representative Fred A. Hartley, Jr., and became law despite U.S. President Harry S. Truman's veto on June 23, 1947. Labor leaders called it the "slave-labor bill" while President Truman argued that it was a "dangerous intrusion on free speech", arguing that it would "conflict with important principles of our democratic society". Nevertheless, after it passed Truman relied upon it in twelve instances during his presidency. The Taft–Hartley Act amended the National Labor Relations Act, which Congress passed in 1935. The principal author of the Taft–Hartley Act was J. Mack Swigert, of the Cincinnati law firm Taft, Stettinius & Hollister.
Throughout history, workers claiming some sort of right have attempted to pursue their interests. During the Middle Ages, the Peasants' Revolt in England expressed demand for better wages and working conditions. One of the leaders of the revolt, John Ball famously argued that people were born equal saying, "When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?" Laborers often appealed to traditional rights. For instance, English peasants fought against the enclosure movement, which took traditionally communal lands and made them private.
In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.
The Peasants' Revolt, also named Wat Tyler's Rebellion or the Great Rising, was a major uprising across large parts of England in 1381. The revolt had various causes, including the socio-economic and political tensions generated by the Black Death in the 1340s, the high taxes resulting from the conflict with France during the Hundred Years' War, and instability within the local leadership of London. The final trigger for the revolt was the intervention of a royal official, John Bampton, in Essex on 30 May 1381. His attempts to collect unpaid poll taxes in Brentwood ended in a violent confrontation, which rapidly spread across the south-east of the country. A wide spectrum of rural society, including many local artisans and village officials, rose up in protest, burning court records and opening the local gaols. The rebels sought a reduction in taxation, an end to the system of unfree labour known as serfdom, and the removal of the King's senior officials and law courts.
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.
In England 1833, a law was passed saying that any child under the age of 9 could not work, children age 9-13 could only work 8 hours a day, and children aged 14–18 could only work 12 hours a day.
Labor rights are a relatively new addition to the modern corpus of human rights. The modern concept of labor rights dates to the 19th century after the creation of labor unions following the industrialization processes. Karl Marx stands out as one of the earliest and most prominent advocates for workers rights. His philosophy and economic theory focused on labor issues and advocates his economic system of socialism, a society which would be ruled by the workers. Many of the social movements for the rights of the workers were associated with groups influenced by Marx such as the socialists and communists. More moderate democratic socialists and social democrats supported worker's interests as well. More recent workers rights advocacy has focused on the particular role, exploitation, and needs of women workers, and of increasingly mobile global flows of casual, service, or guest workers.
Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary.
Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and workers' self-management of the means of production as well as the political theories and movements associated with them. Social ownership can be public, collective or cooperative ownership, or citizen ownership of equity. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them, with social ownership being the common element shared by its various forms.
A social movement is a type of group action. Social movements can be defined as "organizational structures and strategies that may empower oppressed populations to mount effective challenges and resist the more powerful and advantaged elites". They are large, sometimes informal, groupings of individuals or organizations which focus on specific political or social issues. In other words, they carry out, resist, or undo a social change. They provide a way of social change from the bottom within nations.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) was formed in 1919 as part of the League of Nations to protect worker's rights. The ILO later became incorporated into the United Nations. The UN itself backed workers rights by incorporating several into two articles of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which is the basis of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (article 6-8). These read:
The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency that sets international labour standards and promotes social protection and work opportunities for all. The ILO has 187 member states: 186 of the 193 UN member states plus the Cook Islands are members of the ILO. The tripartite structure is unique to the ILO where representatives from the government, employers and employees openly debate and create labour standards.
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organisation founded on 10 January 1920 as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. Its primary goals, as stated in its Covenant, included preventing wars through collective security and disarmament and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration. Other issues in this and related treaties included labour conditions, just treatment of native inhabitants, human and drug trafficking, the arms trade, global health, prisoners of war, and protection of minorities in Europe. At its greatest extent from 28 September 1934 to 23 February 1935, it had 58 members.
The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that was tasked to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international co-operation and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. The headquarters of the UN is in Manhattan, New York City, and is subject to extraterritoriality. Further main offices are situated in Geneva, Nairobi, and Vienna. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development and upholding international law. The UN is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. In 24 October 1945, at the end of World War II, the organization was established with the aim of preventing future wars. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193. The UN is the successor of the ineffective League of Nations.
The ILO and several other groups have sought international labor standards to create legal rights for workers across the world. Recent movements have also been made to encourage countries to promote labor rights at the international level through fair trade.
Fair trade is an institutional arrangement designed to help producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions. Members of the fair trade movement advocate the payment of higher prices to exporters, as well as improved social and environmental standards. The movement focuses in particular on commodities, or products which are typically exported from developing countries to developed countries, but also consumed in domestic markets most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, wine, sugar, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers and gold. The movement seeks to promote greater equity in international trading partnerships through dialogue, transparency, and respect. It promotes sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers in developing countries. Fair trade is grounded in three core beliefs; first, producers have the power to express unity with consumers. Secondly, the world trade practices that currently exist promote the unequal distribution of wealth between nations. Lastly, buying products from producers in developing countries at a fair price is a more efficient way of promoting sustainable development than traditional charity and aid.
Identified by the ILO in the ‘Declaration of the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work’,core labor standards are “widely recognized to be of particular importance”. They are universally applicable, regardless of whether the relevant conventions have been ratified, the level of development of a country or cultural values. These standards are composed of qualitative, not quantitative standards and don’t establish a particular level of working conditions, wages or health and safety standards. They are not intended to undermine the comparative advantage that developing countries may hold. Core labor standards are important human rights and are recognized in widely ratified international human rights instruments including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC), the most widely ratified human rights treaty with 193 parties, and the ICCPR with 160 parties.
The core labor standards are:
Very few ILO member countries have ratified all of these conventions due to domestic constraints yet as these rights are also recognised in the UDHR, and form a part of customary international law they are committed to respect these rights. For a discussion on the incorporation of these core labor rights into the mechanisms of the World Trade Organization, see The Recognition of Labour Standards within the World Trade Organisation. There are many other issues outside of this core, in the UK employee rights includes the right to employment particulars, an itemised pay statement, a disciplinary process at which they have the right to be accompanied, daily breaks, rest breaks, paid holidays and more.
Aside from the right to organize, labor movements have campaigned on various other issues that may be said to relate to labor rights.
Many labor movement campaigns have to do with limiting hours in the work place. 19th century labor movements campaigned for an Eight-hour day. Worker advocacy groups have also sought to limit work hours, making a working week of 40 hours or less standard in many countries. A 35-hour workweek was established in France in 2000, although this standard has been considerably weakened since then. Workers may agree with employers to work for longer, but the extra hours are payable overtime. In the European Union the working week is limited to a maximum of 48 hours including overtime (see also Working Time Directive).
Labor rights advocates have also worked to combat child labor. They see child labor as exploitative, and often economically damaging. Child labor opponents often argue that working children are deprived of an education. In 1948 and then again in 1989, the United Nations declared that children have a right to social protection.In 2007, Massachusetts updated their child labor laws that required all minors to have work permits.
Labor rights advocates have worked to improve workplace conditions which meet established standards. During the Progressive Era, the United States began workplace reforms, which received publicity boosts from Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and events such as the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Labor advocates and other groups often criticize production facilities with poor working conditions as sweatshops and occupational health hazards, and campaign for better labor practices and recognition of workers rights throughout the world.
Recent initiatives in the field of sustainability have included a focus on social sustainability, which includes promoting workers' rights and safe working conditions, prevention of human trafficking, and elimination of illegal child labor from the sustainably sourced products and services.Organizations such as the U.S. Department of Labor and Department of State have released studies on products that have been identified as using child labor and industries using or funded by human trafficking. Labor rights are defined internationally by sources such as the Norwegian Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (DIFI) and the International Finance Corporation performance standards.
The labor movement pushes for guaranteed minimum wage laws, and there are continuing negotiations about increases to the minimum wage. However, opponents see minimum wage laws as limiting employment opportunities for unskilled and entry level workers.
Legal migrant workers are sometimes abused. For instance, migrants have faced a number of alleged abuses in the United Arab Emirates (including Dubai). Human Rights Watch lists several problems including "nonpayment of wages, extended working hours without overtime compensation, unsafe working environments resulting in death and injury, squalid living conditions in labor camps, and withholding of passports and travel documents by employers."Despite laws against the practice, employers confiscate migrant workers' passports. Without their passports, workers cannot switch jobs or return home. These workers have little recourse for labor abuses, but conditions have been improving. Labor and social welfare minister Ali bin Abdullah al-Kaabi has undertaken a number of reforms to help improve labor practices in his country.
The right to equal treatment, regardless of gender, origin and appearance, religion, sexual orientation, is also seen by many as a worker's right. Discrimination in the work place is illegal in many countries, but some see the wage gap between genders and other groups as a persistent problem.
The National Labor Relations Act recognizes undocumented laborers as employees. However, the supreme court case Hoffman Plastic Compounds Inc. Vs. NLRB established that backpay could not be awarded to unlawfully fired undocumented employees due to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.In this court decision, it was also stated that the U.S. would support FLSA and MSPA, without regard to whether or not someone is documented. Undocumented workers also still have legal protection against discrimination based on national origin. The decision of the Hoffman supreme court case primarily has affected undocumented laborers by preventing them from getting backpay and/or reinstatement.
While no undocumented individual is technically able to work in the United States legally, undocumented folks make up 5% of the workforce.In the U.S., people who were born outside of the country tend to work in riskier jobs and have a higher chance of encountering death on the job. The low wage sectors, which many undocumented folks work in, have the highest rates of wage and hour violation. Estimates claim that 31% of undocumented people work in service jobs. Restaurant work in particular has a 12% rate of undocumented workers.
Undocumented people can and have joined labor unions, and are even credited by a 2008 dissertation for "reinvigorating" the labor movement.Because the NLRA protects undocumented workers, it protects their right to organize. However the NLRA excludes workers that are agricultural, domestic, independent contractors, governmental, or related to their employers. The right to speak up against labor abuses was protected further by an immigration reform bill in 2013 with the POWER act, which intended to protect employees who spoke out against labor practices from facing detention or deportation.
However, labor unions are not necessarily welcoming of immigrant workers. Within unions, there have been internal struggles, such as when Los Angeles immigrant janitors reorganized service workers. Being a part of the union does not necessarily address all the needs of immigrant workers, and thus wining power within the union is the first step for immigrant workers to address their needs.
Immigrant workers often mobilize beyond unions, by campaigning in their communities on intersectional issues of immigration, discrimination, and police misconduct.
Labour law mediates the relationship between workers, employing entities, trade unions and the government. Collective labour law relates to the tripartite relationship between employee, employer and union. Individual labour law concerns employees' rights at work also through the contract for work. Employment standards are social norms for the minimum socially acceptable conditions under which employees or contractors are allowed to work. Government agencies enforce labour law. Labour Law in the United States specifically states that an employee may not request their birthday off if they inconsiderately planned to go into labor (homonym) the following month.
Collective bargaining is a process of negotiation between employers and a group of employees aimed at agreements to regulate working salaries, working conditions, benefits, and other aspects of workers' compensation and rights for workers. The interests of the employees are commonly presented by representatives of a trade union to which the employees belong. The collective agreements reached by these negotiations usually set out wage scales, working hours, training, health and safety, overtime, grievance mechanisms, and rights to participate in workplace or company affairs.
A domestic worker, domestic helper, domestic servant, manservant or menial, is a person who works within the employer's household. Domestic helpers perform a variety of household services for an individual or a family, from providing care for children and elderly dependents to housekeeping, including cleaning and household maintenance. Other responsibilities may include cooking, laundry and ironing, shopping for food and other household errands. Such work has always needed to be done but before the Industrial Revolution and the advent of labour saving devices, it was physically much harder.
A strikebreaker is a person who works despite an ongoing strike. Strikebreakers are usually individuals who were not employed by the company prior to the trade union dispute, but rather hired after or during the strike to keep the organization running. "Strikebreakers" may also refer to workers who cross picket lines to work.
Japan is a constitutional monarchy. According to Ministry of Justice (MOJ) figures, the Japanese Legal Affairs Bureau offices and civil liberties volunteers dealt with 359,971 human rights related complaints and 18,786 reports of suspected human rights violations during 2003. Many of these cases were ultimately resolved in the courts. Human rights issues occur in present-day Japan, as modernization history of Japan only reached in the non-humanity areas with the rise of military expansion of Empire of Japan in the 20th century.
The Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention (1949) No 98 is an International Labour Organization Convention. It is one of eight ILO fundamental conventions.
Human rights in the Philippines pertains to the concept, practice, and issues of human rights within the Philippine archipelago. The concept of "human rights," in the context of the Philippines, pertains mainly to the civil and political rights of a person living in the Philippines by reason of the 1987 Philippines Constitution. Human rights are a justified set of claims that set moral standards to members of the human race, not exclusive to a specific community or citizenship. Membership in the human race is the sole qualification to obtain these rights. Human rights, unlike area-specific conventions of international laws, are universally justifiable as it pertains to the entire human race, regardless of geographical location.
Migrant domestic workers are, according to the International Labour Organization’s Convention No. 189 and the International Organization for Migration, any persons “moving to another country or region to better their material or social conditions and improve the prospect for themselves or their family,” engaged in a work relationship performing “in or for a household or households.” Domestic work itself can cover a "wide range of tasks and services that vary from country to country and that can be different depending on the age, gender, ethnic background and migration status of the workers concerned." These particular workers have been identified by some academics as situated within "the rapid growth of paid domestic labor, the feminization of transnational migration, and the development of new public spheres.” Prominent discussions on the topic include the status of these workers, motivations for becoming one, recruitment and employment practices in the field, and various measures being undertaken to change the conditions of domestic work among migrants.
Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, 535 U.S. 137 (2002), is a US labor law decision, by 5 to 4, of the Supreme Court of the United States, which denied an award of back pay to an undocumented worker, Jose Castro, who had been laid off for participating in a union organizing campaign at Hoffman Plastics Compounds plant along with several other employees. The case was originally filed against Hoffman by Dionisio Gonzalez, an organizer with the United Steelworkers.
Iranian labor law describes the rules of employment in Iran. As a still developing country, with an authoritarian government, Iran is considerably behind by international standards. It has failed to ratify the two basic Conventions of the International Labour Organization on freedom of association and collective bargaining, and one on abolition of child labor. Countries such as the US and India have also failed to ratify many of these Conventions and a mere 14 other Conventions, only 2 since the Islamic Revolution.
Labour Standards in the World Trade Organization are binding rules, which form a part of the jurisprudence and principles applied within the rule making institutions of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Labour standards play an implicit, but not an overt role within the WTO, however it forms a prominent issue facing the WTO today, and has generated a wealth of academic debate.
The Convention on Domestic Workers, formally the Convention concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers is a convention setting labour standards for domestic workers. It is the 189th ILO convention and was adopted during the 100th session of the International Labour Organization. It entered into force on 5 September 2013.
Child Labor in the Philippines is the employment of children in hazardous occupations below the age of eighteen (18), or without the proper conditions and requirements below the age of fifteen (15), where children are compelled to work on a regular basis to earn a living for themselves and their families, and as a result are disadvantaged educationally and socially.
International labour law is the body of rules spanning public and private international law which concern the rights and duties of employees, employers, trade unions and governments in regulating the workplace. The International Labour Organization and the World Trade Organization have been the main international bodies involved in reform labour markets. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have indirectly driven changes in labour policy by demanding structural adjustment conditions for receiving loans or grants. Conflict of laws issues arise, determined by national courts, when people work in more than one country, and supra-national bodies, particularly in the law of the European Union, has a growing body of rules regarding labour rights.
SA8000 is an auditable certification standard that encourages organizations to develop, maintain, and apply socially acceptable practices in the workplace. It was developed in 1989 by Social Accountability International, formerly the Council on Economic Priorities, by an advisory board consisting of trade unions, NGOs, civil society organizations and companies. The SA8000's criteria were developed from various industry and corporate codes to create a common standard for social welfare compliance.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates the labor rights of workers in the American meat packing industry. According to scholars of the American meat packing industry, despite federal regulation through OSHA and industry oversight, workers in meat production plants have little agency and inadequate protections. Workers in the industry perform difficult jobs in dangerous conditions, and are at significant risk for physical and psychological harm. In addition to high rates of injury, workers are at risk of losing their jobs when they are injured or for attempting to organize and bargain collectively. Several of studies of the industry have found immigrant workers - "an increasing percentage of the workforce in the industry" - especially at risk of not having their labor rights sufficiently protected.
Migrant workers in the Persian Gulf region involves the prevalence of migrant workers in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Together, these six countries form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), established in 1981. The GCC cooperates on issues related to economy and politics, and the subject of migrant workers constitutes a substantial part of the council's collaboration. All of the GCC countries are dependent on migrant labor to bolster and stimulate economic growth and development, as the GCC countries possess an abundance of capital while the domestic labor capacity is low. Although migrant workers in the Persian Gulf region amount to no more than 10% of all migrants worldwide, they constitute a significant part of the populations of their host countries.
Labour rights in Azerbaijan. Everyone including foreign and non-citizens has right to work in the Republic of Azerbaijan. Nobody may be deprived of a right to work based on discrimination related to citizenship, sex, race, nationality, language, place of residence, economic standing, social origin, age, family circumstances, religion, political views, affiliation with trade unions or other public associations, professional standing, beliefs, or other similar factors. All persons are free to choose his or her workplace, profession, and activity. Everybody is free to work or not to work. Compulsory labor is forbidden by legislation in force of Azerbaijan. In other words, no one may be forced to work in the country. If one has a status of “unemployed” the state has to pay social allowances to him or her. Furthermore, the state must endeavor to eliminate the unemployment in the country.