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VOLUME 137, NUMBER 3 1998/3



The labour market: A lawyer's view of economic arguments


Orthodox lawyers and economists are divided over the rationale for and the value of labour law. Here, a labour lawyer presents his thoughts on the conception and role of labour law found in the theories and economic models concerning the labour market, the criticisms arising from the "insider-outsider" problem, and the asymmetric information available to employers and workers. Though defending the need for labour law and for the existence of trade unions, he concludes that a new balance needs to be struck between workers' protection in the employment relationship and in the labour market in general.

Trade union rights: An economic perspective

Eddy LEE

Though widely recognized, trade union rights also attract considerable opposition. The author addresses arguments concerning their negative effects on both economic efficiency and equity. Rejecting as unproven the neoliberal contention that flexibility necessarily implies superior economic performance, he notes that empirical evidence reveals a more complex situation, in which other factors have equal or greater influence on economic performance. On equity, he recalls the important role of trade unions in decreasing inequality and contributing to social gains. Finally, he relativizes recent clashes between "Asian" and "Western" values concerning human rights, arguing for their universality.

The net impact of active labour programmes in Hungary and Poland

and György LÁZÁR

As do many countries, Hungary and Poland provide unemployment compensation and active labour programmes for the unemployed. This article reports on follow-up surveys of participants in retraining, public works, subsidized employment and self-employment programmes compared to non-participants. Preliminary results show a positive net impact of most of these programmes plus benefits from using the employment services, but strong evidence of non-random assignment to programmes signals the need to examine the findings further. Such evaluations provide necessary feedback on the effective use of public resources, though of course the programmes serve multiple objectives, political as well as economic and social.

Sheltered employment for persons with disabilities

Laurent VISIER

As sheltered employment has grown so have calls for recognition of its contribution to the economy. The legal framework within which it operates varies widely, from that governing an "ordinary" enterprise to that regulating therapeutic establishments. The question therefore arises of the employment status and rights of the persons with disabilities working in such "protected environments". The author examines how far its "protective" function influences working conditions, and then outlines a typology of approaches to sheltered workshops, in all regions. He concludes that impairment presents no unsurmountable obstacle to integration into working life or to workers' personal and collective fulfilment.

Worker representation on health and safety in small enterprises: Lessons from a Swedish approach


This article reports on a rare example of an effective preventive strategy for health and safety in the small enterprise sector: Sweden's system of regional safety representatives and its underlying approach to participation. The means available in large enterprises for effective representation are generally lacking in small enterprises, and this report on a recent evaluation shows how the Swedish system has found ways of overcoming the problem. The authors conclude with lessons this scheme holds for other countries, including the relevance of regional safety representation to trade union regeneration.


Supervising labour standards and human rights: The case of forced labour in Myanmar (Burma)

The ILO Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety: A multidisciplinary challenge



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Updated by MCN. Approved by MFL. Last update: 9 November 1999.