Labour standards in international trade : a study in theory and policy.
The theoretical and policy implications of
incorporating labour standards to international trade
agreements (LSITA) are studied. The paradigms of the "new
international labour studies" and of the international
division of labour serve as the main references for the
construction of a multidisciplinary theoretical approach
for the study of LSITA, devised on four premises: (a) an
international horizon of the labour process, patterns of
employment and labour relations; (b) the role of trade
unions and international labour solidarity; (c) the
inadequacy of neoclassical economics and free trade theory;
and (d) link of LSITA to a broader development perspective.
Arguments from organisations and individuals involved
in the debate are investigated and categorised.
The global experience of LSITA is reviewed at four
levels. (A) unilateral: child and prison labour. (B)
Bilateral: the EEC proposal in the Lome II negotiations and
the EU and US GSP programmes. (C) Multilateral: attempts in
the GATT/WTO and (D) Regional: the Social Charter of the EU
and the labour side agreement of NAFTA, under which the
case studies of General Electric, Honeywell, Sony and u.S.
Sprint are evaluated. For each level an assessment is
carried out regarding: (1) the effects on the industrial
relations processes in the countries involved; (2) the
general case for LSITA; and (3) the case for strengthening
existing provisions and extending social clauses to a
A core of labour standards, based on ILO Conventions
is put forward as a minimum IIpackage." It is suggested that
mul tilateral approaches, provided they meet certain
transparency and accountability criteria, should take
precedence over bilateral and unilateral. A list of
essential pre-requirements on transparency and
accountabili ty is put forward. The principle of the "mostfavoured
nation" in terms of labour standards is
recommended for introduction at at a multilateral level.