What is the course about?
This course has ended. You can enrol in our free course on International Labour Standards: how to use them which is a short, self-paced version of this MOOC. 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. In some countries, the online learning experience will be complemented with local workshops and the results of the local discussions will be uploaded into the MOOC for a truly global learning experience.
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 and trade union strategies in global supply chains. 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 promoting workers’ rights worldwide.
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 Master's 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. Participants will be invited to share relevant material on labour rights issues in an interactive world map.
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. In addition, an optional unit invites delegates to the International Labour Conference of the ILO to deepen their knowledge on the functioning of the Conference.
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, complemented by practical insights from insiders. 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. This assignment will allow you to extend your knowledge on the labour rights situation in 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 and show practical insights on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining.
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, including examples of successful organising strategies in the informal economy from India, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Chapter 6: Company responsibility to respect ILS: Norms, Standards, Principles
This chapter discusses key instruments and initiatives beyond the ILO in the struggle for global workers’ rights. What are the main instruments of Corporate Social Responsibility? How can the OECD Guidelines and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights be used to promote workers’ rights? And what are legislative approaches to hold companies accountable for workers’ rights violations in global supply chains?
Chapter 7: Trade union strategies for promoting ILS in global supply chains
What are strategies of labour for realizing decent work in global supply chains? This concluding chapter looks at innovative trade union strategies in global supply chains and opens a space for discussion on the role of trade unions in 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.
If you complete the certificate track, you can apply for a GLU scholarship to participate in the 11th Global Labour University Conference, South Africa, 2016 on “The Just Transition and the Role of Labour: Our Ecological, Social, and Economic Future”, September 28 to 30, 2016, Johannesburg, South Africa. We will cast a lot among the applicants to select to MOOC certificate students for a GLU scholarship to participate in the conference (covering travel and accommodation at the Conference). For more information on the Conference keep an eye on http://www.global-labour-university.org.
Line-up of contributors
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
Prof. Mark Anner, Ph.D.
- Associate Professor of Labor and Employment Relations, and Political Science at Penn State University, USA
- Main areas of interest: Global Apparel Industry, Labour movements in Latin America, Corporate Social Responsibility, Strikes in Vietnam
- Deputy Director, Geneva Office of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
- Main areas of interest: social dialogue, training, research, employment, trade, migration, sectorial activities and policies, multinational enterprises, small and medium enterprises
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
- Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union
- Main areas of interest: global labour movement, global framework agreements
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
- Trade union rights & national administration officer at Public Services International (PSI)
- Main areas of interest: international labour standards, freedom of association
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
- Legal specialist and Coordinator of the Wages, Working Time, Maritime and Specific Workers Team, International Labour Standards Department, ILO
- Main areas of interest: Support to trade unions on issues related to International Labour Standards and the ILO supervisory mechanisms.
- Legal Director, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
- Main areas of interest: trade and labour standards, freedom of association, precarious work, comparative labour law
Maria Helena André (Director of the Bureau for Workers’ Activities, ILO)
Zeynep Aklar (Trade union activist with DİSK/Sosyal-İs, Turkey)
Pratik Baviskar (Organiser at the trade union Learn Mahila Kaamgar Sangathan, India)
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 (Associate Expert at the Bureau for Workers’ Activities, ILO)
Renana Jhabvala (National coordinator of the Self-employed Women’s Association, India)
Maité Llanos (Project coordinator at the Global Labour University)
Wisborn Malaya (Secretary General at Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations, Zimbabwe)
Luisa Nxumalo (Organiser at the Congress of South African Trade Unions, South Africa)
Isabel Ortiz (Director of the Social Protection Department, ILO)
Image Copyright (above): ILO/Crozet M
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Prof Mark Anner, Penn State University
Mark Anner is a Professor of Labor and Employment Relations, and Political Science, and he is the Director of the Center for Global Workers' Rights at Penn State University. He is also the chair of the MPS Program in Labor and Global Workers' Rights, which is a part of the Global Labour University network. He holds a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University and a Master's Degree in Latin American Studies from Stanford University. Dr. Anner's research examines freedom of association and corporate social responsibility, labor law reform and enforcement, and workers' rights in apparel global value chains in Central America and Vietnam. His publications include Solidarity Transformed: Labor Responses to Globalization and Crisis in Latin America* (Cornell University Press, 2011). Before beginning his academic career, Mark Anner spent eleven years working with labor unions and labor research centers in Central America and Brazil, and he was a union organizer in Boston.
Jeffrey Vogt is the Legal Director of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). Before joining the ITUC in 2011, he was the Global Economic Policy Specialist for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL CIO) and later the Deputy Director of its International Department. Previously, he represented trade unions in litigation in US state and federal courts. He is a graduate of Cornell Law School, where he earned his JD and LLM in International and Comparative Law. He also studied international law at the University of Paris.
Fernando Lopes was elected as Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union at its founding Congress on 19 June 2012.
Previously he was the Assistant General Secretary of the International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF), elected at its 32nd World Congress in May 2009.
Fernando has a long history in the labour movement in Brazil, first getting involved in the workers’ party (PT) while studying mechanical engineering in the northern state of Maranhão during the 1970s.
After 13 years of political work in Maranhão, Fernando was forced to move to Bahia in 1987 due to political persecution. Here he began working as a maintenance engineer at the Bahia Steel Mill and with the local union, becoming a member of the executive committee of the metalworkers’ union of Bahia and then of the National Confederation of Metalworkers (CNM) of the national trade union centre CUT.
Fernando was elected general secretary of CNM/CUT in 2001 and served on the IMF Executive Committee from 2003 to 2005 and its Secretariat from 2007.
Camilo Rubiano is the Trade Union Rights & National Administration Officer at Public Services International (PSI). He is a law graduate with specializations in Intellectual Property and Trade Law. Since 2007 he has been engaged with issues related to international labour standards and freedom of association, both at the ILO and the ITC-ILO.
Esther Busser is the Assistant Director in the Geneva Office of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and assistant secretary to the workers’ group in the ILO since February 2009. She previously worked as trade policy advisor for the ITUC from 2003-2009. She holds a Masters in Economic Policy from the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and worked previously in the ILO and UNCTAD. She was secretary of the workers' group on the ILO discussion on global supply chains in June 2016 and is the secretary of the workers' group for the update of the ILO's Tripartite declaration of principles concerning multinational enterprises and social policy (MNE Declaration)
Born in Argentina and graduated in International Relations, Maité Llanos has been working with social movements and trade unions for more than ten years. From 2010 to February 2015 she coordinated the international department of CTA A–Central de Trabajadores de la Argentina-Autónoma. Before that, Maité has worked for the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas In São Paulo, focusing on environment and labour; and coordinated the continental campaign on trade agreements. In 2015 she moved to Geneva and worked as project coordinator and online tutor at the Global Labour University. Currently, she is Assistant Director at the ITUC Geneva Office.
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.
Currently based in Canada, he worked for seven years at the Argentine Workers Confederation (CTA). He holds a PhD in Social Sciences from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina and is a GLU alumni from the Masters in Globalisation and Labour at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India.