ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Dignity at Work

This paper argues that historically the main mission of trade unions has been to ensure an equitable distribution of the fruits of economic growth. The unions accomplished this mission through strategies aimed at enhancing the content of 'substantive rights' - wages, hours of work and working conditions - and at minimising income inequalities between the incumbents and new entrants to the world of work. A return to this earlier emphasis on non-competing groups has assumed strategic importance in today's global economy. The paper discusses some options before the labour movement with special reference to the developing countries. There is much to learn from union experience in industrial societies, where they have made substantive rights accessible to a broad spectrum of workers including those at the lower end of markets. By building on such rights, the labour movement can help develop a social floor for the global economy, empowering workers to gain access to a larger basket of rights and entitlements.

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