Legal Regulation of Unacceptable Forms of Work: Global Dialogue/Local Innovation

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Law

Abstract

The Network on Legal Regulation of Unacceptable Forms of Work responds to the substantive and methodological limitations of the research on the regulation of precarious and low-quality jobs. The Network will support a rigorous, global, interdisciplinary and policy-oriented reflection on UFW. The aim is ultimately to generate crucial comparative insights into the challenges and potential of UFW regulation. The project will (1) establish an international and interdisciplinary Network of researchers and policy makers committed to an authentically global account of the regulation of UFW that fully incorporates the needs of developing countries, and (2) develop interlinked research agendas on key sites of regulatory intervention. The Strategic Network will nurture collaboration between researchers from multiple disciplines, developing countries and advanced industrialised countries, and policy-makers at all levels. The aim is to generate meaningful insights into the design and implementation of domestic and international laws. The Network will centre on Global Regulatory Challenges (GRCs) in UFW regulation, identified as among the most urgent and complex issues that face lower-income countries. Each Network Team will address labour market/regulatory phenomena in two paired countries across different income levels. The Teams will (1) map the existing 'state of the art' on the GRCs and (2) devise research strategies that can identify the most effective regulatory and policy strategies to address each, with a particular focus on developing countries.

Planned Impact

The UFW Network is an impact-oriented project. At the core of its objectives and activities is support for policy-actors to design regulatory interventions on unacceptable work, with a particular focus on developing countries.

Who will benefit and how?: An Impact strategy on UFW

The nine Network Teams (see Case for Support, Section 3) have been designed as an extended dialogue between researchers and global and local policy actors. Each Team will be composed of 5-7 members from paired countries, 2-3 of whom will be influential policy actors. These policy actors will be drawn from domestic and multilateral bodies and selected on the basis that they represent pivotal constituencies and/or exercise a substantial influence on regulatory policy, design, or implementation.

Network Teams will work towards co-production of research agendas. Each team will also design an Impact Pathway Strategy that will identify key policy actors and criteria for shaping Network activities in the target countries. Centrally, 'points of leverage' will be found, at which legal reforms are likely to be most feasible. These will be identified at the local level, allowing the Network Teams to respond effectively and swiftly to developments within local policy and regulatory frameworks (draft legislation, labour rights litigation, civil society campaigns etc.)

Through the impact and dissemination strategies, the Network will benefit the range of policy actors - national and transnational - that are engaged in the design, and implementation of labour regulation and pursuit of labour rights. As part of the Network-building activities of the Network (Activity 1, see Case for Support, Section 4), local partners will be identified by the Lead Researchers. Targeted beneficiaries already identified included:

International Labour Organization, Geneva
Greater Mekong Subregion TRIANGLE project (Tripartite Action to Protect Migrant Workers within and from the Greater Mekong Subregion from Labour Exploitation)
Forced Labour Monitoring Group (UK)
National Commission to Eradicate Forced Labour (Brazil)
United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Florence, Italy
ILO/International Finance Corporation, World Bank Better Work Project
Living Wage Foundation (UK)

In conjunction with the Impact Pathway Strategies, policy partners will be integrated through the following channels:

Policy actors and policy-influential scholars will be appointed to the Network's Global Advisory Board (Case for Support, Section 3). Tentatively, Board members will include representatives of the International Labour Organization, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), European Commission Directorate-General Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), together with key UK partners.

One of the Co-Investigators - Lee - has a devoted impact role. As a key contact within the UN International Labour Organization, Lee will have a devoted role in securing global contacts (the World Bank, other UN Specialist agencies etc.) and at the national level through the ILO's network of 'constituents' (governments and employers' and workers' organizations) and broader contacts among NGOs and civil society).

A project-specific dissemination strategy will incorporate widespread circulation of the series of Project Reports on Innovative UFW Regulation, Executive Summaries, translated into French and Spanish, a series of UFW Policy Briefs (Case for Support, Section 4). These materials will be disseminated via a devoted Network website, a UFW app, a devoted Twitter feed, and in PDF and hard copies as needed and press releases will be targeted at leading media outlets.

Publications

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McCann D (2019) A Strategic Approach to Regulating Unacceptable Forms of Work in Journal of Law and Society

 
Title Videos/animation 
Description A series of short videos and animation have been produced in collaboration with Dreamscope Productions to convey the Network-building process, overall objectives of the Network, and individual Research Agendas to a broad audience of users. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Impacts are at an early stage and expected to evolve with dissemination activities. 
 
Description 1. WHAT WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS FROM THE AWARD?

Designing effective regulatory frameworks that can upgrade Unacceptable Forms of Work (UFW) is an urgent global challenge. UFW have been defined by the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) as jobs that "deny fundamental principles and rights at work, put at risk the lives, health, freedom, human dignity and security of workers or keep households in conditions of extreme poverty." The elimination of UFW is therefore central to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 8: to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.

The ESRC/GCRF Strategic Network on Legal Regulation of Unacceptable Forms of Work is animated by a conviction that policy-makers and researchers from across the world must come together to share ideas, experiments, and successful strategies to address UFW. To this end, the Strategic Network was formed to support a global dialogue on UFW. Core achievements are that the Network has brought together more than 50 research and policy bodies from 20 countries in all regions and has supported a global interdisciplinary and policy-oriented reflection on UFW. The Network has also begun to respond to the substantive and methodological limitations of the research on the regulation of UFW, through a set of Research Agendas that outline inter-regional comparative Case Studies on effective labour regulation. The longer-term objective - integrated into the work of the Network - is to support meaningful reform in the design and implementation of domestic and international laws.

2. TO WHAT EXTENT WERE THE AWARD OBJECTIVES MET?

The key objectives of the award were:

1. To establish an international and interdisciplinary Network of researchers and policy-makers committed to an authentically global account of the regulation of UFW that fully incorporates the needs of developing countries; and

2. To develop interlinked research agendas on key sites of regulatory intervention.

2.1. Network building

The Network has initiated and supported collaboration between researchers from multiple disciplines including law, economics, development studies, human resources, geography, sociology and industrial relations, and from institutions that include Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD), Cambridge University, Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), Sao Paulo, Institute for Economic and Social Development, Buenos Aires, Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs (ILSSA), Hanoi, MIT, University of Manchester, University of Cape Town, University of the Western Cape, University of the Witswatersrand and York University (Toronto). The Network reaches into both Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) and advanced industrialised countries including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Cambodia, India, Jordan, Korea, Lesotho, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, UK and Viet Nam.

Domestic and transnational policy partners are at the heart of the UFW Network. The Network has more than 50 policy partners. Global partners are the ILO, Geneva, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WEIGO). National partners encompass government Ministries, multi-national corporations, NGOs, trade unions and workers' rights advocacy organisations. These include the Apparel Manufacturers of South Africa, Asia Inspection/SEDEX, the Brazilian Labour Inspectorate, Better Factories Cambodia/Better Work (ILO/World Bank), the Cambodian Ministry of Labour, the Casual Workers Advice Office, South Africa, the Ethical Trading Initiative, the ILO Country Offices for Argentina, Brazil and Viet Nam, the ILO Pretoria Office, Labour Education and Research Network (LEARN), Lesotho Clothing and Allied Workers Union, the Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs (ILSSA), Viet Nam, and the South African Department of Labour.

To build the Network and plan Research Agendas (see below), Global Dialogues were held in Durham Law School and at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Bangkok during summer 2017. The Dialogues brought together researchers and policy-actors from all regions (Durham - UK, North America, Latin America, Africa; Bangkok - Asia, Australia). A Workshop on Global Challenges to Effective Labour Rights was also held in Durham in December 2017, to reflect upon the achievements of the Network and to map future activities and impact.

2.2. Research Agendas on Innovative UFW Regulation

The Network has generated a set of Research Agendas on Innovative UFW Regulation. These Agendas outline interlinked research and impact strategies to investigate and respond to Global Regulatory Challenges: the most urgent and complex issues that face lower-income countries in eliminating or upgrading unacceptable work. Each of the Research Agendas has been designed by Network Teams from two or more countries that include 2-3 policy actors (global/local), researchers from a range of disciplines, and members who are based in both LMICs and advanced industrialised countries. The Teams also support capacity-building through the involvement of Early Career Researchers.

The Research Agendas (1) map the existing 'state of the art' on the Global Regulatory Challenges and (2) outline research strategies that can identify the most effective regulatory and policy strategies to address each Challenge. They investigate regulatory frameworks at a range of levels (global, national, sectoral, firm-level) and examine diverse regulatory mechanisms (legislation, collective bargaining, Corporate Social Responsibility regimes etc.) The Research Agendas also centre on sectors and occupations that are at the heart of the global economy, including the garment sector, construction, domestic work, and agriculture.

The Research Agendas are devoted to the following Global Regulatory Challenges:

• Casual Work
• Recruitment in Global Value Chains
• Extending Forced Labour Initiatives
• Innovative Collective Representation
• Enforcing Labour Laws
• Labour Rights in 'The Precarious Economy'
• Law's Dynamic Effects
• Violence and Harassment in the Care Economy
• Informal Work and Labour Regulation

To investigate each Global Regulatory Challenge, a cross-regional comparative approach has been adopted. Each Research Agenda proposes an illustrative comparison of labour market/regulatory phenomena in two or more countries drawn from different regions and income-levels. The aim is to generate a dialogue that transcends national boundaries and to circulate regulatory ideas and innovations across the world. Innovative interdisciplinary research methodologies have been designed that are specifically tailored to each Challenge (see further Research Tools and Methods). These methodologies are diverse, build on the strengths of the Network Teams, cross disciplinary boundaries, and embrace a range of qualitative and quantitative techniques. Each Research Agenda proposes a set of impact strategies that are tailored towards regulatory reform (see Narrative Impact). A Synthesis Report has also been produced that reviews the Network process, findings and Research Agendas.
Exploitation Route The findings are being taken forward through a series of linked grant applications, publications and other activities that have been designed to build strategically on the award:

1. RCUK/GCRF applications. An application to the ESRC New Models of Sustainable Development call (Decent Work for All) (£799,600) is under consideration. This proposal is to fund a set of four studies on Decent Work Regulation that build on the Strategic Network Research Agendas: (1) three Case Studies on countries in the global South, which investigate contrasting regulatory mechanisms for improving informal work (Argentina, Cambodia, South Africa) and (2) a cross-cutting global study that advances the measurement of informality and investigates the impact of labour regulation on informal work. The focus is on attempts to introduce legal regulation into arenas previously unregulated by formal norms and to generate lessons on innovative legal techniques.

2. Durham University HEFCE GCRF funding. Durham University has recognised the significance of the UFW project by awarding the Principal Investigator funds to further develop the Strategic Network (£90,000; March-July 2018). These HEFCE funds were allocated to GCRF projects through a University-wide competitive application process. The funding is directed towards:

(1) Extending and strengthening the Network's links in sub-Saharan Africa, including with the project's Regional Hub, the University of Cape Town. To this end, a Regional Meeting will take place in South Africa in June 2018. Participants will be drawn primarily from researchers and policy-makers in the region, with a focus on countries that are designated as Least-Developed on the OECD DAC-list.

(2) Conducting a pilot study on Enforcing Labour Laws through field work in South Africa and Lesotho. The focus is 'hybrid' enforcement models that integrate non-state actors - NGOs, 'buyer' firms, international organizations etc. - into state-led enforcement strategies. A particular focus is the ILO/World Bank Better Work programme.

3. ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) funding (February-May 2018). The Principal Investigator has been awarded Durham ESRC IAA funding to magnify the impact of the Strategic Network (£9,070). The impact activities include liaising with Network members to influence local policy and legal processes, extending the Network into new countries, designing targeted Research/Policy Briefs to circulate to policy makers, and proactively monitoring activities of international and domestic labour institutions to identify possibilities for intervention.

4. Other activities. The Network is currently exploring opportunities to produce academic outputs. Outputs are likely to be in the form of either a Special Issue of a top-tier Law journal or an edited volume from a leading academic publisher. Individual Network Teams are also exploring further funding opportunities to advance the Research Agendas, from the UK and overseas.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Construction,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail,Transport

URL http://unacceptablework.com
 
Description The concept of UFW operationalised through the work of the Network has already had an immediate impact during the life of the award. This impact has been achieved through collaboration with the Network's key global partner, the International Labour Organisation. Dr Sangheon Lee, Director of the Employment Policy Department is a Co-Investigator on the Award. Network partners also include Manuela Tomei (Director of the Conditions of Work and Equality Department) and Professor Damian Grimshaw (Director, Research Department). Through these channels, the UFW concept is influencing the policy activities of the Organization. In particular, it has informed the ILO's platform for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - see http://www.ilo.org/global/topics/dw4sd/lang--en/index.htm. Towards future impact, each of the Network Research Agendas includes a Pathway to Impact Strategy that was designed in collaboration with local policy actors and is tailored to the legal, institutional, socio-economic and developmental settings of the Research Agenda countries. These Strategies incorporate legislative reform, enforcement strategies, social dialogue, collective bargaining, Corporate Social Responsibility, and worker organizing and awareness-raising. They have been designed to reach a large number of beneficiaries (e.g. 40,000 day labourers in South Africa - Research Agenda on Casual Work). The Network's ESRC IAA funding (see Key Findings) is also directed towards enhancing and extending the impact of the Network.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice,Other
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description ILO Agenda on Unacceptable Forms of Work/Sustainable Development Goals
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact The foundational research for the Strategic Network and subsequent Global Dialogues have influenced the development of the ILO's policy agenda on Unacceptable Forms of Work (UFW). This influence has been exercised directly through research publications and indirectly through in-person discussion with key ILO officials. The approach of the Network towards the innovative regulation of UFW is exercising a continuing influence no the ILO's policy agenda on UFW, including as it shapes the efforts of the Organization to contribute to the 2030 Agenda and to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
 
Description Durham University ESRC Impact Acceleration Account
Amount £9,070 (GBP)
Organisation Durham University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2018 
End 05/2018
 
Description Durham University HEFCE GCRF funding
Amount £90,000 (GBP)
Organisation Durham University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 07/2018
 
Description Strategic Network on UFW Membership 
Organisation Ambedkar University Delhi
PI Contribution Membership of the Strategic Network on Legal Regulation of UFW is drawn from the academic and policy institutions listed below. Network Members (1) have contributed to the Research Agendas on Innovative UFW Regulation (see Key Findings) or (2) are members of the project Global Advisory Board. ACADEMIC PARTNERS Ambedkar University, Delhi, India Cambridge University, UK Cardiff University, UK Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development, Perumbavoor, Kerala, India Fundação Getulio Vargas, Brazil Harvard University, USA Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa Research Centre for Employment Relations, Hanoi, Viet Nam RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia Roskilde University, Denmark Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea University of California, Davis, USA University of Cape Town, South Africa University of Illinois at Chicago, USA University of Kent, UK University of Leicester, UK University of Manchester, UK University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South Africa University of the Witswatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand York University, Toronto, Canada INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS EU European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions UN ILO, Geneva United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) NATIONAL PARTNERS Argentina ILO Field Office in Argentina Australia Victorian Trades Hall Council, Melbourne UNISON Brazil ILO Country Office for Brazil Labour Inspectorate, Ministry of Labour, Government of Brazil Cambodia Better Factories Cambodia Cambodian Ministry of Labour Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights India Labour Education and Research Network (LEARN), Maharashtra Jordan Better Work Jordan Korea Korean Solidarity Against Precarious Work Lesotho Mamohale Matsoso, Labour Commissioner, Ministry of Labour and Employment Lesotho National Development Corporation, Maseru Lesotho Textile Exporters Association (LTEA), Maseru Ministry of Trade and Development, Maseru Remmoho Compliance Solutions, Maseru United Textile Employees South Africa Apparel Manufacturers of South Africa Casual Workers Advice Office, Germiston Coastal Clothing Manufacturers Association Department of Labour Ethical Trading Initiative ILO Pretoria Office National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Industry South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) UK Ethical Trading Initiative Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) UNITE USA National Day Labourer Organizing Network, Los Angeles National Domestic Workers Alliance Solidarity Center, Washington, DC Viet Nam ILO Country Office for Viet Nam, Hanoi Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs (ILSSA), Hanoi
Collaborator Contribution See above
Impact See Key Findings
Start Year 2017
 
Description Strategic Network engagement activities 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Engagement activities are integrated across the work of the Strategic Network on Legal Regulation of Unacceptable Forms of Work. The overarching objective of the Network is to influence law and policy at the global and local levels.

Network members are drawn from more than 30 global and international policy bodies including the EU, United Nations, WIEGO, UNRISD and Labour Ministries, Labour Inspectorate, trade unions, employers and NGOs from countries in all regions (see Collaborations and Partnerships). These members have been integrated into the Network from the outset, including on Network Teams and on the Global Advisory Board, shaping the project's Research Agendas and providing guidance on the most effective pathways to impact at the global and local levels.

The Research Agendas on Innovative UFW Regulation that have been produced by the Network Teams integrate ongoing engagement with research users, in research design, research activities, and impact and engagement during the life of the proposed research projects and beyond. Towards future impact, each of the Network Research Agendas includes a Pathway to Impact Strategy that was designed in collaboration with local policy actors. These Strategies incorporate continuing dialogue with key local policy actors to influence legislative reform, enforcement strategies, collective bargaining etc.

The Network communication strategy has also been designed to engage in a highly accessible manner with policy actors and broader public audiences by providing information on the project through a devoted website, twitter feed, accessible information materials, Network videos etc.

Durham University ESRC IAA funding secured by the Principal Investigator (see Further Funding) (February-May 2018) is directed towards enhancing and extending Network engagement.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://unacceptablework.com