About this course
This course has ended. You can enrol in our active courses https://glu.iversity.org/. You can also check other upcoming other online courses of the Global Labour University here http://www.global-labour-university.org/392.html
Rights and dignity at the workplace are fundamental human rights. However, workers’ rights continue to be violated every day - millions of people worldwide are facing exploitative working hours, poverty wages, humiliation and mistreatment at work. There are estimates that today’s world has a higher number of slaves than any other time in history.
This MOOC discusses what Global Workers’ Rights are and which instruments and strategies can be used to implement them. Based on a careful mix of video lectures, readings, online resources and interviews with activists and labour scholars from around the world, you will gain both knowledge and practical skills for furthering workers’ rights worldwide.
What will I learn
At the end of the course you will understand the history and concept of global workers’ rights and the institutional structure of the International Labour Organization (ILO) as the key player in setting International Labour Standards. You will be able to join the economic debate about labour standards and competitiveness, and understand the concepts behind the fundamental rights of Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining. You will understand the different approaches for realizing decent work in the informal economy and gain an overview of instruments and initiatives beyond the ILO. The course also allows you to apply this knowledge to a practical case from your country and gain skills and competencies for using the existing instruments and mechanisms for protecting workers’ rights.
What do I need to know?
The course requires a working level of English and draws on the fields of political science and law at the level of a Masters programme. However, theoretical concepts are explained in an accessible and well-illustrated way, so it is also possible to participate in the course based on skills and knowledge acquired outside formal education.
Chapter 1: The concept of Global Workers’ Rights
This chapter introduces the concept of Global Workers’ Rights and explains the history and functioning of the International Labour Organization (ILO) as the organization setting International Labour Standards (ILS). The prospects and challenges of the ILO approach to Global Workers’ Rights are debated, and you will learn about the mainstream economic arguments against ILS and how to assess them critically.
Chapter 2: Introduction to International Labour Standards (ILS)
Which types of International Labour Standards exist and how are they set? Which actors are involved and how are they interlinked? This chapter provides an overview on International Labour Standards and lays the foundation for understanding the standard setting mechanisms at the ILO. The role of trade unions in this process is illustrated through a concrete example of a recent and ground-breaking Convention for one of the most vulnerable groups of workers.
Chapter 3: Supervision of International Labour Standards (ILS)
This chapter aims at enabling you to understand and use the ILO supervisory mechanisms for the protection of workers’ rights. The elaborate process is illustrated in a concise and hands-on way. At the end of the chapter, the mid-term assignment invites you to apply your newly acquired knowledge to a practical case from your country. The assignment is due at the end of chapter 4, followed by a peer-review. The peer-review method will allow you to deepen your knowledge on other countries and to learn from each other.
Chapter 4: Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining
Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining are ‘enabling rights’ at the heart of decent work. But what is the legal concept of Freedom of Association under Convention 87 and what makes it fundamental to the implementation of International Labour Standards? This chapter will also provide you with an overview on the current debate on the right to strike.
Chapter 5: Access to rights for workers in informal and precarious employment
This chapter focuses on the challenge of realizing rights for workers in informal and precarious employment. We will explore the specific dynamics in the informal economy and innovative approaches for increasing workers’ protection in this challenging field.
Chapter 6: Instruments and initiatives beyond the ILO
What are instruments and initiatives beyond the ILO in the struggle for workers’ rights? What is the role of Corporate Social Responsibility and what can we learn from Global Framework Agreements? How can the OECD Guidelines and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights be used; and what about social clauses in trade agreements? This concluding chapter provides both practical skills and space for discussion on the governance of workers’ rights in a global economy.
Final exam: Multiple-choice-test
Students choosing the certificate track will have one week study time before taking a multiple choice test on the course content.
Among those completing the certificate track, we will cast a lot to select three students who will be invited to participate in the 10th Global Labour University Conference “Sharing the Gains – Containing Corporate Power”, 30 September to 2 October 2015, Washington, D.C. You will find more information on the conference on: http://www.global-labour-university.org/fileadmin/download/CfP_GLU_Conference_2015.pdf
Line-up of contributors
Prof. Dr. Stefanie Lorenzen
• Professor of Employment and Labour Law at the Berlin School of Economics and Law, Department of Business and Economics, Germany
• Main areas of interest: employment law, co-determination, right to collective bargaining, international and European labour law
Dr. Michael Fichter
• Senior Lecturer at the Global Labour University, Germany
• Main areas of interest: global labour relations, trade unions, political economy
Dr. Frank Hoffer
• Economist and Senior Research Officer, Bureau for Workers’ Activities, ILO.
• Main areas of interest: Wages Policies, Social Protection, International Research Cooperation
Victor Hugo Ricco
• Lawyer and Technical officer, Bureau for Workers’ Activities, ILO
• Main areas of interest: International Labour Standards, Informal Economy, Forced labour
Prof. Dr. Christoph Scherrer
• Professor for Globalization and Politics, Social Science Department of the University of Kassel, Germany
• Main areas of interest: International Political Economy: Governance of world markets, international labor standards, cross-national transfer of institutions, theories of the International Political Economy
Dr. Ben Scully
• Lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
• Main areas of interest: Precarious Work, Economic Development, Social Welfare in the Global South
• Lawyer and Senior Specialist for International Labour Standards and Legal Issues, Bureau for Workers’ Activities, ILO.
• Main areas of interest: Support to trade unions on issues related to International Labour Standards and the ILO supervisory mechanisms.
Prof. Paul Whitehead
• Professor of Practice in Labor Studies and Employment Relations at Penn State University, USA.
• Main areas of interest: Trade unions, collective bargaining, labor and employment law, international labor law, international human resources, trade law, and programs for pensions, health care, and social security.
Maria Helena André (Director of the Bureau for Workers’ Activities, ILO)
Prof. Mark Anner, Ph.D. (Associate Professor of Labor and Employment Relations, and Political Science at Penn State University, USA)
Magda Biavaschi, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor at University of Campinas, Brazil)
Karen Curtis (Chief of the Freedom of Association Branch, International Labour Standards Department, ILO)
Kirstine Drew (Senior policy advisor to the Trade Union Advisory Council to the OECD)
Eulogia Familia (Vice-President of the National Confederation of Trade Union Unity in the Dominican Republic)
Prof. Jayati Ghosh (Professor of Economics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, India)
Tandiwe Gross (Programme coordinator at the Global Labour University)
Renana Jhabvala (National coordinator of the Self-employed Women’s Association, India)
Isabel Ortiz (Director of the Social Protection Department, ILO)
Peter Rossman (Director of international campaigns and communications at the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations)
Image Copyright (above): ILO/Crozet M
Stefanie Lorenzen is a professor for business law, especially employment and labor law at the Berlin School of Economics and Law since 2009. She worked for two years at the Ministery of Justice in Windhoek, Namibia, where she supported a development aid study on legal reform after the country’s independence in 1994. From 1998 to 2009 she was an attorney-at-law specialised in employment and labor law, with an international law firm in Germany and in her own practice. At the Berlin School of Economics and Law she academically directs a Master programme in Business Law in an International Context, and lectures on International Labour Standards and working conditions along the global supply chain.
Dr Frank Hoffer
Dr Frank Hoffer is a research fellow of the Global Labour University. He studied in Bremen, London and Moscow. He holds a PhD in Economics. During his professional career, Frank Hoffer was a Labour Attache at the Germany Embassy in Moscow, worked as a senior research officer at the International Labour Organisation and served as the Executive Director of the ACT Foundation. His main areas of interest and research are social policy, wage policies and the application of international labour standards. He is a non-executive director of the GLU Online Academy board
Christoph Scherrer is professor for Globalization and Politics and executive director of the International Center for Development and Decent Work at the University of Kassel and a member of Steering Committee of the Global Labour University.
Paul Whitehead is a Professor of Practice in the Penn State School of Labor and Employment Relations. He earned his B.S. in Labor Studies and M.S. in Industrial Relations from the University of Wisconsin. He is an honors graduate of Harvard Law School. For 28 years, Whitehead represented the United Steelworkers, the largest industrial union in North America, and an organization active in cross-border solidarity initiatives. In 2009, he joined the PSU faculty, where he has been active in its Center for Global Workers' Rights. In recent years, he helped to bring Penn State into the Global Labour University (GLU) via the creation of Penn State's one-year masters program in Global Workers' Rights. His teaching includes International Labour Law.
Beatriz Vacotto graduated as a lawyer in Cordoba, Argentina and later obtained a Masters in International Relationship in the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. She is now working as Coordinator of the Wages, Working Time, Maritime and Specific Categories of Workers Team in the International Labour Standards Department of the ILO. Prior to that, she worked for the Bureau for Workers' Activities (ACTRAV), where she was in charge of assisting the ILO Workers' group and trade unions from different countries in work related to International Labour Standards and the ILO supervisory mechanisms. Her former experience includes working for the ILO training centre in Turin where she was responsible for a training project on freedom of association and in the ILO International Labour Standards Department in Geneva, where she was part of the secretariat of ILO supervisory bodies.
Peter Rossman works as the Director of international campaigns and communications at the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF). He has been with the IUF since 1991, where he is involved in much of the IUF's work on transnational companies. Prior to that, he has been an advisor to the Party of European Socialists on European Union financial regulation and has published widely on trade, investment and finance in relation to human and trade union rights among other topics.
Ben Scully is a Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is an editor of the Global Labour Journal. His research and teaching focus on labour, precarious work, social welfare, and economic development.
Dr. Michael Fichter
He moved to Berlin after receiving his BA in History at Stanford University. Until the end of 2011 he taught political science and labor relations at the Freie Universitaet Berlin. From 2005 to 2013 he also taught a seminar on "Strategies of Multinational Corporations and Labour" in the GLU German Program. His research focus for the past several years has been on global labor relations, in particular on the impact of global framework agreements and transnational union networks.
Victor Hugo Ricco es abogado especializado en Derechos Humanos y trabaja como Especialista Principal en la Oficina de Actividades para los Trabajadores (ACTRAV) de la Organización Internacional del Trabajo (OIT) coordinando el equipo de Normas de ACTRAV y liderando los temas sobre migración laboral. Anteriormente, trabajó en la Secretaría de Medioambiente y Desarrollo Sustentable de Córdoba (Argentina) y fue Coordinador General de Asuntos Ambientales Internacionales para el Gobierno de Argentina. Su principal área de trabajo ha sido Derechos Humanos y Responsabilidad Empresarial. Esto incluye su trabajo en la prosecución de casos laborales a nivel internacional, particularmente bajo las directrices de la OCDE y siendo miembro del comité de coordinación de la red OECD Watch.
En este curso, presenta los videos sobre mecanismos de control de la OIT.
Dr. Claudia Hofmann works as a research associate at the Chair for Public Law and Policy on the Faculty of Law at the University of Regensburg. Her research concentrates on the area of international law (in particular the field of socioeconomic human rights and international equality standards), social law and German constitutional and administrative law.
Tandiwe Gross graduated in political science and law and holds an M.A. in Labour Policies and Globalisation from the University of Kassel and Berlin School of Economics and Law. After working for the Global Labour University and the International Labour Organization in the area of labour rights and due diligence in global supply chains, she now works as Senior Programme Manager at the ACT Foundation.