One of the aims of this blog is to promote Canadian labour & employment law scholarship. In that vein, I have posted articles by Canadian law professors, and I have a permanent category link on this page to Free Labour Law scholarship, which includes posts linking to new articles on our subject matter.
Today, I am advertising a new paper by …. well, me! I wrote a 400 page Ph.D dissertation a while back in which I theorized and researched how a Canadian law could actually lead to improvements in working conditions in factories in the developing world that supply multinational corporations. I called this type of regulation–a law that seeks to influence foreign labour practices– “transnational domestic labour regulation”.
My new article (In Defense of Transnational Domestic Labor Regulation) wrestles with the thorny question of whether this sort of regulation is a good idea in the first place. Should Canada attempt to improve labour conditions in factories in India, China, or Sri Lanka, or are those conditions none of Canada’s business? Could a Canadian law targeting foreign labour conditions actually make life worse for the workers in those countries? Or does Canada have an obligation to use whatever power it has to try and aid foreign workers in their struggle to win improved working conditions? These are not easy questions, but these are the sorts of issues considered in my new paper.
You can download the paper for free here (click DOWNLOAD). Comments/suggestions are welcome, as always. Here is the abstract:
“Transnational domestic labor regulation” (TDLR) is unilateral regulation introduced by a national government that is designed to influence labor practices in foreign jurisdictions. Many governments already use a variety of measures to try and influence foreign labor practices. TDLR has the potential to empower foreign workers and influence the balance of power in foreign industrial relations system in ways that might lead to improvements in labor conditions over time. Particularly interesting is the potential for TDLR to harness or steer the many private sources of labor practice governance already active in shaping labor conditions within global supply chains. However, whether governments should be trying to influence foreign labor practices at all is a controversial question. Does such a strategy not amount to unwarranted interference in the sovereign right of the foreign governments to regulate labor conditions within their own borders? Is this not just another form of Northern protectionism designed to undermine the comparative advantage of developing countries? This article explores the arguments both for and against a unilateral legislative strategy that aims to improve working conditions in foreign countries. While, ultimately, the author is supportive of the strategy, he concludes that the design of the model must incorporate the legitimate warnings in many of the criticisms of the strategy.