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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Labour development : the improbable reconciliation of globalization with the rights of workers Russo, Robert Marc


The question of linking international trade and labour standards is an issue that has taken on increased visibility with the accelerating pace of globalization. Although globalization has brought benefits to some, it has not resulted in the predicted benefits for many workers worldwide and in particular for workers in developing countries. I have grouped the attempts to internationally regulate labour under a concept I refer to as labour development. Labour development is a subset of international social development policies designed to respond to the social instability caused by economic globalization. This thesis argues that the enforcing of labour standards as a form of developed world notions of workplace human rights clashes with notions of neo-liberal economic development. The purpose of this thesis is to determine the actual effects of labour development on developed and developing countries. Chapter 1 is an introduction to the labour development concept. It provides a theoretical framework, reviews the legal history of international labour law, and outlines the methods used in my analysis. Chapter 2 focuses on the creation and operation of the ILO and also examines the debate on linkages between trade and labour in the WTO. Chapters 3 & 4 then analyze the question of linkages in this hemisphere in the free trade and labour cooperation agreements negotiated by the United States and Canada with Latin American countries. Chapter 3 focuses on the operation of the North American Agreement on Labour Cooperation (NAALC) and examines complaints under the NAALC involving Mexican migrant workers in the U.S. Chapter 4 focuses on the development of Canadian international labour policy, from the NAALC to current free trade negotiations involving four Central American countries. It includes a case study of the Canada-Chile Agreement on Labour Cooperation. Chapter 5 applies the data in the case studies to labour development theory and analyzes labour development’s implications for both developing and developed countries. It argues that the reconciliation of labour development and neo-liberal economic globalization is extremely difficult. The chapter concludes with recommendations to detach future labour agreements from the current framework of free trade negotiations.

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