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Hazard or HardshipCrafting Global Norms on the Right to Refuse Unsafe Work$
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Jeffrey Hilgert

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780801451898

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801451898.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction Commodified Workers and the International Response

(p.1) Introduction Commodified Workers and the International Response

(p.1) Introduction Commodified Workers and the International Response
Hazard or Hardship

Jeffrey Hilgert

Cornell University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. This book is about the history of the right to refuse unsafe work under international labor standards. It details how workers lost the right to refuse under international labor and human rights norms. It takes an in-depth look at how our global society has decided to resolve—and failed to resolve—the protection of any fundamental human right to refuse unsafe work. Around the world, every society and government must decide how to protect, or not to protect, each worker from retaliation and termination. This involves not just drafting a progressive antidiscrimination law; it also involves the regulating of work and employment relations on a more fundamental level. Ultimately, the right to refuse unsafe work is a moral question for society. If society crafts institutions, laws, and regulations that expose workers to hostile supervisors and managers without effective recourse, a moral choice has been made. Such a moral choice finds it acceptable that workers are forced to choose between their physical health and safety or their economic livelihood and basic subsistence.

Keywords:   hazardous work, right to refuse, unsafe work, occupational health and safety, international labor standards, human rights

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