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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.86) 4 How Effective are Convention 155 Refusal Rights?

(p.86) 4 How Effective are Convention 155 Refusal Rights?

(p.86) 4 How Effective are Convention 155 Refusal Rights?
Hazard or Hardship

Jeffrey Hilgert

Cornell University Press

International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No. 155 concerning Occupational Health and Safety in the Working Environment was adopted in Geneva by the International Labour Conference at its 67th session in 1981. Fifty-nine member states were a party to the treaty as of August 2012. This chapter examines how the restrictive refusal rights model advocated in Convention No. 155 works in practice. As two leading liberal market economies, Canada and the United States offer a strong litmus test for workers' rights under Convention No. 155. Available evidence from Canadian labor relations scholarship as well as documentation of U.S. work refusal investigations demonstrate that limited legal protection of the right to refuse unsafe work as a standalone labor and employment policy represents nothing more than a failed approach, and in turn a false consensus in global worker health and safety policy. It is ultimately neither in society's interest nor in a worker's interest. This model of worker protection instead serves employer interests.

Keywords:   International Labor Organization, ILO Convention No. 155, right to refuse, unsafe work, refusal rights, hazardous work, international labor law, workers' rights

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