Management Seminars: Huw Thomas
Huw Thomas (University of Bristol)
G.15, 15-19 Tyndall's Park Road, BRISTOL BS8 1PQ
Title: 'Everyone's connected but no-one is responsible': the International Labour Organization (ILO) and decent work in global supply
During the ‘great transformation’, ILO Conventions played an important role in protecting workers’ rights. With the ‘global transformation’ of work and employment, the existing system of labour standards is no longer ‘fit for purpose’ to ensure decent work in global supply chains. When the ILO is analyzed ‘from the outside’, through the theoretical lens of historical institutionalism as a tripartite organization (governments, employers and workers) with a corporatist decision-making structure, it is difficult to see how the Organization might break free of its path dependent past. If, in contrast, the ILO is analyzed ‘from the inside’, through the theoretical lens of discursive institutionalism as a quadripartite organization, with the International Labour Office ‘setting the agenda’ of the International Labour Conference (the global ‘parliament of labour’), then it becomes clear that ‘speaking of change’ is key to explaining how organizations can take the first step along a very different path. The Conclusions of the 2016 International Labour Conference on decent work in global supply chains marks a decisive step towards ‘vertical’ regulation along the supply chain instead of the ILO’s traditional reliance on horizontal forms of labour governance within the sovereign borders of member States.