Justice and Judicial Systems

Location

University of Dayton

Start Date

10-2-2015 10:30 AM

End Date

10-2-2015 12:00 PM

Abstract

Labor activists around the world are increasingly attempting to use human rights frameworks to draw attention to serious labor rights violations. While some scholars are enthusiastic about the prospects that this new alliance between human rights advocates and labor activists will renew a focus on labor issues, others are skeptical about turning away from the traditional vehicles—such as social citizenship, the welfare state, trade unions, and collective bargaining, which are in decline in many parts of the world— toward individual rights-claiming before the courts. Yet, we lack a comparative study that carefully examines the effects of these rulings on the ordinary lives of aggrieved workers. Focusing on the mobilization of trade union rights activists from the UK at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), this research aims to understand whether and how human rights frameworks can be mobilized for social change. I specifically examine the legal mobilization of the Blacklist Support Group, which is a grassroots organization formed in 2009 to publicize and challenge the massive blacklisting of construction workers, mainly due to their trade union activities. I situate this case study in a broader effort by the trade union movement in the UK to claim labor rights as human rights and the changing role of the ECtHR vis-a-vis labor rights by analyzing the trade union rights cases brought before the ECtHR from the UK. This broader picture suggests that grassroots mobilization play an important role in changing international law and democratizing human rights from below. Furthermore, I also show that while the formal judicial remedies are often limited, the legal mobilization efforts at the ECtHR have opened new discursive and strategic avenues for labor activists that can be explored in other forms of labor activism.

Comments

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Oct 2nd, 10:30 AM Oct 2nd, 12:00 PM

Democratizing Human Rights from Below: Blacklisted Workers at the European Court of Human Rights (abstract)

University of Dayton

Labor activists around the world are increasingly attempting to use human rights frameworks to draw attention to serious labor rights violations. While some scholars are enthusiastic about the prospects that this new alliance between human rights advocates and labor activists will renew a focus on labor issues, others are skeptical about turning away from the traditional vehicles—such as social citizenship, the welfare state, trade unions, and collective bargaining, which are in decline in many parts of the world— toward individual rights-claiming before the courts. Yet, we lack a comparative study that carefully examines the effects of these rulings on the ordinary lives of aggrieved workers. Focusing on the mobilization of trade union rights activists from the UK at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), this research aims to understand whether and how human rights frameworks can be mobilized for social change. I specifically examine the legal mobilization of the Blacklist Support Group, which is a grassroots organization formed in 2009 to publicize and challenge the massive blacklisting of construction workers, mainly due to their trade union activities. I situate this case study in a broader effort by the trade union movement in the UK to claim labor rights as human rights and the changing role of the ECtHR vis-a-vis labor rights by analyzing the trade union rights cases brought before the ECtHR from the UK. This broader picture suggests that grassroots mobilization play an important role in changing international law and democratizing human rights from below. Furthermore, I also show that while the formal judicial remedies are often limited, the legal mobilization efforts at the ECtHR have opened new discursive and strategic avenues for labor activists that can be explored in other forms of labor activism.