The chapter reviews shifts to global capitalism, the rise of non-standard employment relationships and the prevalence of work precarity for many people, including flexibility, work in the gig economy and the rise of new technologies shaping the future of work
The book is about the changing nature of work and employment relations power. It is directed at those who are activists or supporters of goals for a better and more equitable working life, including students, policy makers, trade unionists and CSO/NGO activists. The book engages with competing debates and perspectives about labour agency, examining inter alia the power of the nation state, issues of bogus self-employment and the gig economy, and the inequalities from market reform and globalisation. The book supports a range of modes of student learning, including courses for trade union and community groups. Its contents cover the employment contract, the power of the state, technology and work, globalisation, employee voice and union mobilisation, worker voices beyond the workplace, the future of work and the goals towards a ‘decent’ work agenda.
Chapter 3 unpicks the regulatory context of worker voice and influence. It analyses how the general nature and role of the state has changed and continues to evolve; the influence of policy positions and legal intervention on employment relations; and institutional responses to gender inequality and labour migration. It contends that the world of work and employment has been decollectivised by bogus self-employment and individualised employment rights.
Chapter 4 debates the decline in worker voice. It reviews different forms of voice: ‘institutional’ (e.g. works councils); ‘union participation’; ‘collective bargaining’; ‘non-union voice’; and ‘external actors’ (e.g. civil society groups and associations). It argues that while employee voices are increasingly fragmented and fractured, there are shades of light and hope in terms of new forms of creative labour mobilising and social engagement.
Chapter 5 reviews the previous debates and comments on the scale and extent of fragmentation of work and employment conditions, regulations and diminished power sources. It then charts three broad future vistas, connecting to political trajectories and a reinvigorated role for the state and agents shaping power at work and the importance of people first in future policy debates.
Chapter 1 introduces the key ideas, themes and perspectives underpinning the book. Important concepts and frameworks of power associated with changes in work and employment are introduced; and the ‘work and employment studies’ approach adopted in the book is explained. The core content of the book is also outlined and mapped against six shifting dimensions shaping labour agency in the workplace.
The facts that the UN and other similar inter-governmental organisations (IGOs) are operational and that their decisions affect the lives of millions, have led to greater demands for accountability of IGOs and access to justice for victims when they have caused. This chapter looks at how the primary and secondary rules of international law are upheld in different forms and mechanisms of accountability, including courts. The inadequacies of the International Court of Justice as a constitutional court have led to victims seeking justice before regional and national courts. The chapter explores the practicalities of accountability both at an institutional level and at a more local level. It concludes with an examination as to how far the UN has evolved in terms of accountability for wrongs committed by those working for it by considering sexual abuse committed by peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This chapter pertains to the United Kingdom European Union (EU) membership referendum in 2016. It first traces the last days events which finally led to David Cameron announcing his resignation in the morning of 24 June 2016. Then, the chapter discusses the initial days of the campaign when a poll the 18 February 2016 Daily Telegraph showed 54 per cent for Remain and a mere 46 per cent for Leave. The signs of erosion of the Remain group were seen in the 16 March budget, which contained cuts to disability benefits as well as tax cuts for the wealthier. Wavering voters were not responding to the predictions of economic gloom presented by David Cameron and his allies. On 7 June, sensing that the economic argument had been exhausted, the UKIP leader NIgel Farage told ITV News, 'there is more to life than GDP'.
This conclusion presents some closing remarks on the preceding chapters of the book. The book has presented the briefest of historical outlines of how referendums have been used in Britain and abroad, and in doing so, it has implicitly presented some of the arguments for and against this institution. Between 1920 and 1960, there was little reason to have referendums in Britain as compared to constitutional referendums in Denmark and Ireland which were held in the 1950s. The referendum campaign in 1975 challenged the tribalism that had characterised the politics of the United Kingdom. The Brexit referendum and the referendum on the alternative vote electoral system saw spirited debate as well as disinformation on both sides. However, one cannot reject the referendum in general just because one disagrees with the way David Cameron blundered into to calling one.
The possession of international legal personality explains how the UN and similar inter-governmental organisations have extensive powers separate from those rights of states. The UN Security Council has the power to impose sanctions on a state or an individual, thereby creating binding duties for all states; no state, no matter how powerful, has that legal right. This chapter addresses the debate about the extent of the doctrine of legal powers through three case studies. The case studies include the legality of peacekeeping undertaken by the UN (including a discussion of the Expenses opinion) and the competence of the WHO and UN in relation to the possession or use of nuclear weapons by states (including a discussion of the Nuclear Weapons opinions). They also include the legislative powers of the Security Council (focusing on its counter-terrorism decision in Resolution 1373 of 2001).