Disciplining the Notion of "Labour Rights as Human Rights"


  • Cedric Dawkins Loyola University Chicago
  • Christina Dawkins




Beleaguered labour movement advocates are turning to the “labour rights as human rights” framing to address labour issues that have traditionally been tackled by labour unions. Human rights language is indispensable in making the normative case that labour is not a commodity, but an unstructured adoption of the human rights frame poses the spectre of a diminished role for collective labour rights and an overburdened human rights regime. Under the principle of subsidiarity, the notion of human rights substitutes for core labour rights (i.e., freedom of association) where they are absent and reinforces them when they are present. Beyond simply suggesting that both regimes are used to protect labour rights, we propose using the principle of subsidiarity to structure and reinforce the interdependence of human and labour rights.

KEYWORDS: labour rights; human rights; core labour standards

Author Biography

Christina Dawkins

Christina Dawkins founded A4Abolitionist consultancy, a social justice consultancy to advise artists and educators advancing justice for the most vulnerable populations, and the Abolition Project, an organization that produces collaborative art and education projects to combat modern-day slavery.