News and Events
MAY 2019: 6TH REGULATING FOR DECENT WORK CONFERENCE: ‘WORK AND WELL-BEING IN THE 21ST CENTURY’, 8-10 JULY 2019
The 6th Regulating for Decent Work (RDW) Conference will be held in the International Labour Office (ILO), Geneva, from 8-10 July 2019. Focused on the future of work, the conference aims to advance understanding of the innovative institutions and policies that can help to ensure a more equitable and just society and coincides with the ILO’s Centenary celebrations.
The RDW Conference will again be co-hosted by Durham Law School through the ESRC-funded Decent Work Regulation project.
Durham Law School has a longstanding relationship with the ILO through Professor Deirdre McCann, the Principal Investigator of the Decent Work Regulation Project. The leading international interdisciplinary conference on labour regulation, the RDW Conference was initiated by Professor McCann and Dr Sangheon Lee, and has been held bi-annually since 2009.
On 8th July, the Decent Work Regulation (DWR) Project will hold a Special Session at the RDW Conference. The Session will launch the 25-minute full version of Rethabile’s Story, a short film on life in the Lesotho garment factories. The film will be followed by a round table on Africa in the Future of Work.
APRIL 2019: REGULATING UNACCEPTABLE FORMS OF WORK: A STRATEGIC APPROACH
Upgrading low-waged and insecure work is crucial for worker protection and sustainable development, including to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For this purpose, effective labour regulation is essential. Yet the regulatory frameworks that can improve Unacceptable Forms of Work (UFW) are underdeveloped.
The Multidimensional Model of UFW has been designed for local stakeholders to identify and address UFW in local contexts.
This new Research Briefing focuses on the regulatory dimension of the Multidimensional Model. It outlines a new strategic approach to UFW regulation that supports development objectives, acknowledges the limited resources of low-income countries, and aims at extensive and sustainable effects.
To download the research briefing, click here.
APRIL 2019: LAW’S DYNAMIC EFFECTS: THE CASE OF SOUTH AFRICA
Decent Work Regulation has launched a new page on the project on Law's Dynamic Effects: The Case of South Africa. The study, which is being conducted by Sufia Singlee as her doctoral research, is part of Durham University’s newly-established Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT).
The study centres on the recently introduced National Minimum Wage (NMW) in South Africa and focuses on the application of the minimum wage to informal work relationships. Supervised by Professor Deirdre McCann and Professor John Linarelli, Sufia’s research contributes to the labour market policy debates on effective labour regulation in the context of Goal 8 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), on decent work and economic growth.
The CDT held a launch event on 13 March 2019 to recognise the 26 projects supported by the Centre. All of these projects are interdisciplinary and address a challenge associated with one or more of the SDGs. All of the PhD students come from a DAC nation.
APRIL 2019: RETHABILE’S STORY
The project on Decent Work Regulation in Africa has just launched Rethabile’s Story, a short film on life in the Lesotho garment factories. Directed and produced by Dreamscope TV, the documentary is narrated by Rethabile Ratsiu, a former factory worker in Maseru, Lesotho, who introduces us to working life in the garment factories and her involvement in the Decent Work Regulation Project.
The film highlights the work of the Decent Work Regulation project in Lesotho, which is working towards more effective implementation of labour rights with a particular focus on work-life balance, gender, and informality. The project is a collaboration between the National University of Lesotho, University of Cape Town, Durham University, and York University Toronto.
The full version of Rethabile’s Story will be launched later this year at the Regulating for Decent Work Conference, International Labour Office, Geneva, 8-10 July 2019.
FEBRUARY 2019: A STRATEGIC APPROACH TO REGULATING UNACCEPTABLE FORMS OF WORK, Journal of Law and Society
‘A Strategic Approach to Regulating Unacceptable Forms of Work’ builds on the authors’ Multidimensional Model of UFW to propose a framework for strategic regulation of UFW. This new approach is tailored towards sustainable development, acknowledges the constrained resources of low‐income countries, and aims for expansive and sustainable effects. The article also re-visits four case studies of key legal regimes that govern contrasting labour practices: mathadi labour in India, domestic work in Uruguay, zero-hours contracts in the UK, and minimum wages in the global North and South.
On the Multidimensional Model of UFW, see further ‘Unacceptable Forms of Work’ International Labour Review 2017.
FEBRUARY 2019: ROMA: HOW ALFONSO CUARÓN’S MOVIE IS SPURRING MEXICO TO TREAT DOMESTIC WORKERS MORE FAIRLY – THE CONVERSATION
A day after Alfonso Cuarón won the Best Director Oscar for Roma, Karina Patricio Ferreira Lima and Arely Cruz-Santiago published a piece on The Conversation that highlights innovations on labour rights for domestic workers in Latin America and reflects on how the film comes at a timely moment for legal reforms in Mexico.
The article, titled ‘Roma: how Alfonso Cuarón’s movie is spurring Mexico to treat domestic workers more fairly’, reflects on the main challenges for the legal regulation of domestic work worldwide. It puts Latin America at centre stage as a region that has made significant improvements in this area since the 2000s, even if Mexico is only finally catching up.
In this regard, the authors suggest that there are reasons to believe that legislative reforms may be on the way in Mexico. While these developments owe much to workers’ campaigning and political changes in the country, Roma has played an important role by highlighting the struggle of the profession.
If the promising signs in Mexico bear fruit, Cuarón’s masterpiece will have helped secure decent conditions for domestic workers in a country which has denied them for too long. Roma surely deserves its Hollywood awards, but achieving real reform will be worth a great deal more.
Karina Patricio Ferreira Lima is a doctoral researcher in Law and works as a Research Assistant on the Project on Decent Work Regulation. She is also a Modern Law Review Scholar. Arely Cruz-Santiago is an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Geography and worked as a Project Manager on the DWR Project from 2017-18.
FEBRUARY 2019: DWR PROJECT WELCOMES NEW GCRF CDT DOCTORAL CANDIDATE
In February 2019, Durham Law School welcomed Sufia Singlee as a new doctoral candidate. Sufia is a recipient of a PhD studentship from the University’s newly established Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT).
Sufia’s doctoral project will centre on the recently introduced National Minimum Wage (NMW) in South Africa. Its focus is on the application of the NMW to informal work relationships. By employing both doctrinal and interdisciplinary methodologies, the thesis will investigate the NMW’s effects in the informal economy.
Sufia’s research forms part of the overarching project on Decent Work Regulation, led by Professor Deirdre McCann. She will be supervised by Professor McCann together with Professor John Linarelli. The study aims to contribute to labour market policy debates on effective labour regulation, thereby furthering Goal 8 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals on decent work and economic growth.
Sufia received both her LLB and LLM (in Labour Law) from the University of Cape Town in South Africa and her LLM (in Human Rights and Social Justice) from the University of New South Wales in Australia. She is a member of the Institute for Development and Labour Law at the University of Cape Town (South Africa), PescaDolus (an independent research and fisheries crime network), as well as the Durham Human Rights Centre at Durham Law School.
The CDT is supporting more than 20 students working on a specific challenge in one or more of the areas associated with the UN Sustainable Development Goals with all PhD students coming from a DAC nation. All CDT PhD projects are interdisciplinary and collaborations with universities in DAC countries.
FEBRUARY 2019: GLOBAL DIALOGUE/LOCAL INNOVATION: LABOR REGULATION AS A PATHWAY TO ACHIEVING THE SDGS
The article - Global Dialogue/Local Innovation: Labor Regulation as a Pathway to Achieving the SDGs - outlines the outcomes of the ESRC GCRF Strategic Network on Unacceptable Forms of Work (UFW), with which Dr Cruz-Santiago was a Project Manager from 2017-18.
The article highlights that conditions of work and other dimensions of worker’s lives - childcare, family life, the urban environment, transport etc. - are interlinked. As a result, the UN Sustainable Development Goals must be thought of in a holistic way. Achieving decent work - SDG8 - is an objective that cross-cuts the SDGs. It is fundamental, for example, to ending poverty (SDG1), reducing inequality (SDG10) sustaining sustainable cities (SDG11) and ensuring gender equality (SDG5).
The article discusses the research agendas and project report produced by the Strategic Network. These identify 10 global challenges to effective labour regulation and argue for finding solutions by sharing experiences and ideas among countries in the global North and South.
JANUARY 2019: LAUNCH OF DURHAM GLOBAL CHALLENGES RESEARCH FUND (GCRF) CENTRE FOR DOCTORAL TRAINING
After a welcome by Professor Rob Barton, Acting Executive Director of the IAS, Dr Douglas Halliday, Director of the new CDT, introduced the CDT and its role within the University. Principal Investigators from across the University then introduced their CDT projects, all of which address one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Professor Deirdre McCann presented the project on ‘Law’s Dynamic Effects: The Case of South Africa’, which will investigate the introduction of a national minimum wage in South Africa in January 2019. The research will be conducted by Sufinnah Singlee and supervised by Professor McCann and Professor John Linarelli at Durham Law School.
To download the presentation slides, click here.
JANUARY 2019: UNACCEPTABLE FORMS OF WORK: A GENDER PERSPECTIVE
Gender equality is at the heart of decent work, including in Sustainable Development Goal 5 – to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. In many cases, unacceptable forms of work (UFW) are present in working environments that are highly gendered.
This Research Briefing draws on our UFW Research Agendas on the global care economy and the garment sector, in which the great majority of workers are female.
To download the research briefing, click here.
JANUARY 2019: ESRC IAA SHOWCASE AT DURHAM UNIVERSITY
On 16 January 2019, the DWR Project was featured at the Economic Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) Showcase at Durham University. Held at Durham Castle, the event celebrated the first Durham ESRC IAA scheme and thanked partners who have worked with the projects funded by the IAA.
The event was opened by Durham University’s Vice-Chancellor, Stuart Corbridge, with guests from the ESRC and other University IAA schemes across the country. The DWR team presented a poster that synthetises the research questions, methods, and achievements of the project. The Showcase also provided an opportunity to share experience with colleagues from Durham University and beyond.
The current ESRC IAA scheme began in March 2014 and, over the past four years, has funded almost 80 impact projects covering a wide variety of themes and disciplines. It was announced at the Showcase that new IAA funding has been awarded to Durham after the current scheme closes in March 2019.
JANUARY 2019: DWR PROJECT POSTER
The DWR Project has designed a poster to highlight our main research questions, goals, and activities from 2015 to the present.
Designed by Karina Patricio Ferreira Lima, the poster outlines the development of the Project, explains our Multidimensional Model of UFW, identifies the key Global Challenges to effective labour regulation and highlights our current research on Decent Work Regulation in Africa (2018-).
The poster was debuted at Durham University’s ESRC IAA Showcase event on 16 January 2019.
DECEMBER 2018: NATIONAL-LEVEL MEETING ON DECENT WORK REGULATION IN LESOTHO
On 6th and 7th December 2018, DWR-Africa hosted a National-Level Meeting on Decent Work Regulation in Lesotho.
The stakeholder meeting was organised by our Lesotho project team led by Professor Debbie Collier of the Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town. It was a collaboration with the National University of Lesotho, led by Dr Regina Kulehile of the Faculty of Law.
The event brought together trade union partners in Lesotho, including UNITE, IDUL, NACTWU, and LENTSOE LA SECHABA, among others. Themes under discussion included effective engagement with labour regulation frameworks, gender and work/life issues, informality, unacceptable work, and the changing/evolving role of trade unions.
The Meeting identified a particular need for learning and skills development that focuses on making legal rights effective in practice, promoting decent work, and protecting workers from unacceptable forms of work.
The event builds on an ongoing DWR-Africa collaboration with researchers and local stakeholders in Southern Africa aimed at improving labour regulation with a focus on the garment sector.
DECEMBER 2018: WORK-LIFE, GENDER AND INFORMALITY IN LESOTHO
The Project on Decent Work Regulation in Africa (DWR-Africa) responds to UN Sustainable Development Goal 8: to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all. To achieve this objective, effective labour regulation is important. Strong labour laws are a vital component of development policies, capable of supporting inclusive growth, sustainable prosperity, and the wellbeing of workers and their families.
This project note focuses on the DWR-Africa in Lesotho, with a particular focus on work-life and gender dynamics and how these relate to informality in - or associated with - the garment sector.
To download the document, click here.
NOVEMBER 2018: SUBMISSION ON FAIR WORK FOR THE WELSH GOVERNMENT‘S FAIR WORK COMMISSION
The Fair Work Commission was established by the Welsh Government in July to make recommendations on how to achieve fair work. The Commission has released a call for evidence for organisations and individuals to share their experiences to help ensure fair work in practice and a fairer future for all.
Based on the findings of the Project’s research on Unacceptable Forms of Work (UFW), the submission advocates for recognising Fair Work employers as those who combat UFW in their workplaces, contractors, and supply chains, and for identifying indicators of fair work.
The submission is particularly concerned with ensuring that casualised forms of work are included in national- and firm-level efforts to improve the quality of working life.
To download the submission, please click here.
NOVEMBER 2018: LESSONS ON LABOUR REGULATION FROM THE GLOBAL SOUTH – THE CONVERSATION
An article in The Conversation by Professor Deirdre McCann asks what lessons can be learned from the Project on Unacceptable Forms of Work for regulation of the gig economy and forced labour in high-income countries.
The article draws on the Project research agendas to call for lessons to be learned from the global South on combatting unacceptable work.
The article highlights:
- Preliminary findings from the Decent Work Regulation in Africa project that work/family issues are a pressing concern for many workers in the garment sector in Southern Africa;
- Lessons from Brazil on the effective regulation of forced labour;
- A model from India on head-load work that can be drawn on to inspire law reforms in high-income countries to protect workers in the ‘gig economy.’
The study ‘Unacceptable Forms of Work: Global Dialogue/Local Innovation’ is available here.
The Conversation is the leading independent source of news and views from the academic and research community for use by the wider public.
NOVEMBER 2018: DECENT WORK REGULATION IN AFRICA
The Project on Decent Work Regulation in Africa (DWR-Africa) responds to UN Sustainable Development Goal 8: to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all. To achieve this objective, effective labour regulation is crucial. Strong labour laws are a vital component of development policies, capable of supporting inclusive growth, sustainable prosperity, and the wellbeing of workers and their families.
This project note outlines the aims of the Project, presents our Regional Network on Decent Work Regulation, reports our latest events, and highlights our current research on Decent Work Regulation in Africa (2018-).
To download the document, click here.
OCTOBER 2018: DWR-AFRICA WELCOMES THE NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF LESOTHO AS A NEW PARTNER
DWR-Africa is delighted to welcome a new partner – the National University of Lesotho in Roma, Lesotho.
This collaboration will be led by Dr Regina Kulehile, Head of the Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law. Dr Kulehile’s research interests are diverse and include aspects of the regulation of the informal economy in Lesotho, and the barriers to economic development in Lesotho, including the regulatory framework for electronic commerce, which was the focus of her PhD study.
We are looking forward to a fruitful collaboration with Dr Kulehile in working together with DWR-Africa’s stakeholder partners in Lesotho to build capacity to improve working conditions in Lesotho, with an initial focus on work in the garment sector.
OCTOBER 2018: SUBMISSION ON DECENT WORK REGULATION FOR THE UK VISIT OF THE UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON EXTREME POVERTY AND HUMAN RIGHTS (5-16 November 2018)
A submission for the forthcoming vist to the UK of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights (5 to 16 November 2018) has highlighted the intersection of poverty and labour rights and the need for effective labour regulation in the UK.
The submission - by Professor Deirdre McCann of Durham Law School, Principal Investigator of the Decent Work Regulation project - responds to the Special Rapporteur’s interest in how poverty in the UK intersects with economic and social rights issues.
For further information on the submission, click here.
SEPTEMBER 2018: DWR-AFRICA LESOTHO TRADE UNIONS WORKSHOP
On 28 September, Decent Work Regulation in Africa (DWR-Africa) project team members Ms Ithabeleng Duma (Lesotho Research Lead, Maseru) and Professor Debbie Collier (University of Cape Town) organised the DWR-Africa Lesotho Trade Unions Workshop in Maseru.
The event brought together representatives of the project’s key local union partners, from UNITE, IDUL, NACTWU, and LENTSOE LA SECHABA. The workshop discussed the objectives of the DWR-Africa project and how they relate to the priorities and aims of trade unions and workers in Lesotho. The local stakeholders shared their perspectives on recent developments in the garment industry. The participants also considered potential future activities that could combine the needs and priorities of the academic community and stakeholders.
The workshop established common ground towards improved collaboration between research and union partners in Lesotho. It inaugurated a dialogue that is expected to continue in a series of regular meetings to share ideas and experience of labour regulation in Lesotho.
The event is part of a broader series of research/stakeholder activities during 2018 that are centred on working conditions in Lesotho.
AUGUST 2018: CALL FOR APPLICATIONS FOR A FULLY-FUNDED PHD STUDENTSHIP
Closing date: 31 August 2018
Applications are now open for a fully-funded PhD Studentship on Law's Dynamic Effects in South Africa.
The studentship is funded through Durham University's new Global Challenges Research Fund Centre for Doctoral Training.
The studentship is fully funded for three years from February 2019. It covers full payment of fees; a tax-free maintenance grant of £14,777 per year; return travel and visa costs; an allowance to cover research costs and resarch training; and support for an overseas placement.
Funding is available to an overseas candidate based in an OECD DAC list country. Applicants should have an academic background in a relevant subject e.g. law, sociology, geography, industrial relations, social policy) and training or experience in quantitative or qualitative research methods.
Por further details, please click here.
Enquiries are welcome to Professor Deirdre McCann (firstname.lastname@example.org).
JULY 2018: GLOBAL CHALLENGES SUMMIT
Newcastle University, 24 July 2018
Hosted by Durham, Newcastle and Northumbria Universities, the Summit brought together participants from across the world including Herman Mashaba, the Mayor of Johannesburg, Salha Kaitesi, Founder of Beauty of Rwanda, and Peter White, COO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
Professor McCann called for workers’ rights to be placed at the heart of sustainable development and of efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. She presented a new study by the ESRC/GCRF Network that she leads on Legal Regulation of Unacceptable Forms of Work and her recent work in Southern Africa.
JULY 2018: UFW REPORT 2018
Unacceptable Forms of Work: Global Dialogue/Local Innovation
This report is the product of an international consultation that has involved researchers and policy-makers from 50 research and policy organisations in more than 20 countries across the world. A response to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the report calls for effective labour regulation to secure economic growth and decent work (SDG8).
Unacceptable Forms of Work: Global Dialogue/Local Innovation highlights 10 Global Challenges to effective labour rights. It outlines research agendas that are designed to investigate and respond to each of these Global Challenges by eliminating Unacceptable Forms of Work(UFW).
For further information about the report, please click here.
JUNE 2018: FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE REGIONAL MEETING ON DECENT WORK REGULATION IN AFRICA
University of Cape Town, Graduate School of Business, 18 June 2018
On 18 June 2018, the Network held a Regional Meeting at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business. The Meeting brought together stakeholders from countries across sub-Saharan Africa, including from government Ministries, labour inspectorates, trade unions, employers’ associations, auditors, and retailers.
The Meeting provided the opportunity for a regional dialogue on regulatory strategies that can achieve decent work in the African context. The focus was on the enforcement of labour laws in the garment sector. In particular, participants considered whether involving a range of stakeholders in enforcement - multistakeholders models - can extend the reach of labour standards.
This document outlines the Meeting’s findings and recommendations. It aims to make a useful contribution to the lively debates on effective labour standards, and on decent work in the garment sector, both in Africa and in countries across the world.
To download the document, please click here.
JUNE 2018: REGIONAL MEETING ON DECENT WORK REGULATION IN AFRICA
Decent Work Regulation in Africa aims at establishing a Regional Network of researchers and policy-makers who have an interest in effective labour regulation.
A Regional Meeting of this project was held at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business on 18 June 2018 to bring together participants from the region and international partners. The aim of this meeting was to provide the opportunity for regional and international dialogue on legal strategies that can achieve decent work in Africa, with a particular focus on the garment sector.
For further information about the event, please click here.
APRIL 2018: UFW PROJECT RESEARCH AGENDAS
The ESRC/GCRF Strategic Network on Legal Regulation of Unacceptable Forms of Work has identifed a set of Global Challenges to effective labour regulation. These are the most urgent and complex issues that face lower-income countries in particular in upgrading or eliminating unacceptable forms of work.
Network Teams composed of researchers from a range of discplines and national and international policy actors have produced research agendas to address each Global Challenge.
To download the research agendas, click here.
DECEMBER 2017: WORKSHOP ON GLOBAL CHALLENGES TO EFFECTIVE LABOUR RIGHTS AT DURHAM LAW SCHOOL
A Workshop on Global Challenges to Effective Labour Rights was held at Durham Law School on 8 December 2017. The event gathered researchers and policy-makers from Canada, Lesotho, South Africa, the UK, and the US.
For more information about the event, please click here.
AUGUST & SEPTEMBER 2017: GLOBAL DIALOGUE / LOCAL INNOVATION CONFERENCES: BANGKOK & DURHAM
The ‘Global Dialogue/Local Innovation’ conferences, held in Bangkok and Durham, hosted researchers, policymakers and union members representing a diverse range of nations, including Australia, Korea, Brazil, South Africa, Lesotho, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the UK. More information here.
JUNE 2017: UNACCEPTABLE FORMS OF WORK: A MULTIDIMENSIONAL MODEL
Unacceptable forms of work (UFW) have been identified as an “area of critical importance” for the ILO as it approaches its centenary. Yet there is currently no comprehensive elaboration of the dimensions, causes or manifestations of UFW.
On this article published in the International Labour Review (Vol. 156, No. 2, 2017), Professor Deirdre McCann and Professor Judy Fudge report on a research project that has proposed such a framework.
The article first investigates and reconceptualizes key discourses on contemporary work to identify their contribution to an analytically rigorous conception of UFW. It then outlines a novel Multidimensional Model that has been designed for use by local policy actors in identifying and targeting UFW in countries across a range of income levels.
To download the article, please click here.
FEBRUARY 2016: ELIMINATING UNACCEPTABLE FORMS OF WORK: A GLOBAL CHALLENGE
JULY 2015: ADDRESSING THE COMPLEX REALITIES OF POST-CRISIS EMPLOYMENT
Following the Regulating for Decent Work conference held at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva (8-10 July 2016), Deirdre McCann comments on the need for robust labour regulation to help deliver decent work.
Read the comment here.
JULY 2015: A GLOBAL DIALOGUE (DURHAM/GENEVA)
Researchers and policy-makers from around the world met in July 2015 to share innovative ways in which Unacceptable Forms of Work are being addressed
Workshops were held in Durham and at the ILO in Geneva, at a Special Session of the Regulating for Decent Work Conference.
DECEMBER 2015: LEGAL REGULATION OF UNACCEPTABLE FORMS OF WORK
The elimination of unacceptable forms of work (UFW) has been identified by the ILO as an area of critical importance for the future of labour regulation.
This research briefing outlines the research project led by Deirdre McCann (Durham University) and Judy Fudge (McMaster University), which has generated a Multidimensional Model for identifying and addressing UFW.
The Model is designed to be globally relevant. It can be used by local researchers and policy-makers to construct models of UFW suited to regional, national, sectoral and occupational settings.
To download the research briefing, please click here.
2015: UNACCEPTABLE FORMS OF WORK: A GLOBAL AND COMPARATIVE STUDY
It compares the concept of UFW to relevant concepts developed by academia and selected international organizations. It also proposes a model to capture the multidimensional nature of unacceptable forms of work in different socio-economic and cultural contexts, and suggests effective approaches to labour market regulation in addressing these forms of work.