Labour Rights Institute


Labour Rights Institute Past Events 2018

Monday 1 October 2018

'Solidarity and Conflict: European Social Law in Crisis' – a roundtable discussion on Silvana Sciarra’s latest monograph


  • Diamond Ashiagbor (IALS, Professor of Law)
  • John Hendy QC (Barrister, OSC; Honorary Professor at UCL Laws)
  • Mark Freedland (Emeritus Professor of Employment Law, University of Oxford; Honorary Professor at UCL Laws)
  • Silvana Sciarra (Judge of the Italian Constitutional Court; Emeritus Professor of Labour Law at the University of Florence)

About the event:
The recent monograph by Professor Sciarra, Solidarity and Conflict: European Social Law in Crisis (CUP, 2018) offers a timely reminder of what was lost, in terms of acquired and long established social and labour rights during the, now decade-long, EU ‘Austerity’ phase, officially launched with the first bailout packages of 2008, but in reality stretching back a few more years. A decade of Austerity that has brought to the fore a deeper crisis and the ongoing and unresolved conflict between labour rights (whether of national or supranational origin) and EU macroeconomic and market based imperatives.

But her work also identifies what has been preserved through the crisis. How both national and supranational institutions and collective movements mobilised to defend established rights, and the residual potential and viability of the enduring project that Social Europe is, and is destined to remain.

This event is an opportunity to explore further the important analytical and critical work by Professor Sciarra, with the author herself, and come to grips with both the past and the future of the European social project.

Wednesday 31 October 2018

'The Swiss posted workers Act and the (limited) free movement of services between Switzerland and the European Union'

Professor Kurt Pärli – Faculty of Law, University of Basel

About the event:
The so called ‘social flanking measures” were introduced after Switzerland ratified the free movement agreement with the European Union. These social flanking measures include the Posting of Workers Act, that was revised more than five times since 2002. The Act includes a number of measures and powers seeking to prevent wage dumping practices, including the monitoring of posting arrangements, the possibility to introduce legal standards for minimum wages in particular branches and sectors of the labour market in case of wage dumping, and the facilitation of the general applicability of collective agreements.
The lecture will give an overview of the relevant jurisprudence by reference, in particular to some interesting cases of the Swiss federal high court. The lecture will also analyse the extent to which the social flanking measures are violating the non-discrimination principle in the free movement agreement. The presentation offers useful insights on the arrangements for the provision of labour intensive services between the EU and a country, Switzerland, that selectively participates to important aspects of the EU single market, but without being a member of the EU.

Tuesday 27 November 2018

Rolling out the Manifesto for Labour Law: Collective Bargaining as the new cornerstone of Labour Law in the UK

With Professor Keith Ewing – School of Law, King’s College London

About the event:
In 2016, the Institute of Employment Rights published A Manifesto for Labour Law: towards a comprehensive revision of workers’ rights. Within weeks that publication made a breakthrough in the otherwise rather stale labour law reform debate of recent decades. Rather than advocating minor tweaks to the existing labour rights framework, it envisaged a more radical restructuring of the British Labour Law edifice, by firmly placing sectoral collective bargaining at its foundations. 
In September 2018, the Institute of Employment Rights published a follow-up to its original Manifesto, under the title Rolling out the Manifesto for Labour Law. This new publication offers a more detailed guide to how the Institute’s recommendations could be practically implemented. This includes proposals for a Collective Bargaining Act and other legislative reforms to protect workers both domestically and across the international supply chains that support the UK’s economy.
Professor Keith Ewing, Professor of Public Law at King’s College London and one of the founders of the Institute, has to be credited with providing much of the intellectual drive behind the development of this new and progressive blueprint for a comprehensive revision of workers’ rights in the UK. He will be presenting to our audience on the central axis of the proposals contained in the Manifesto and in its follow up: the introduction of sectoral collective bargaining under the auspices of a new Ministry of Labour.

Tuesday 4 December 2018

The Tyranny of Form: AI, Automation, and Algorithms
Organised with the UCL Centre for Law, Economics & Society 

Professor Hamid R. Ekbia, Indiana University
Chairs: Professor Ioannis Lianos, UCL CLES, and Nicolas Countouris, UCL Institute of Labour Law

About the event:

Artificial Intelligence is back — in new shape and with a vengeance. Abundantly enabled by the marriage between Big Data, automation, and machine learning algorithms, the new AI promises to transform all aspects and arenas of human life — from science, economy, and war to work, romance, and law. Some of these promises are tenable, others practically (and morally) dubious, and still others simply fictitious. To discern among them, we have to keep AI in check, asking not what computers can do, but what we should do in order to make computers work in meaningful ways, how we should change as individuals, groups, and societies, and at what cost. This talk will explore these questions through the examination of a few areas of AI application. The key argument is that these applications can penetrate human affairs to the extent that we let the digital “form” govern our lives. We will discuss some of the ways that law and varieties of legal thought can play a role here.

About the speaker:

Hamid Ekbia is Professor of Informatics, International Studies, and Data Science at Indiana University, Bloomington, where he also directs the Center for Research on Mediated Interaction. He is interested in the political economy of computing and in how technologies mediate cultural, socio-economic, and geo-political relations of modern societies. His most recent book Heteromation and Other Stories of Computing and Capitalism (MIT Press, 2017) examines computer-mediated modes of value extraction in capitalist economies, and  his earlier book Artificial Dreams: The Quest for Non-Biological Intelligence (Cambridge University Press, 2008) was a critical-technical analysis of Artificial Intelligence. He is the co-author of Reconsidering Access: Individual Travails and Asymmetric Gains (MIT Press, 2019), co-editor of a volume titled Big Data Is Not a Monolith (MIT Press, 2016), an Otto Mønsted Visiting Professor in the Department of Digitalization at Copenhagen Business School, and a Senior Fellow at Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften (IFK) in Vienna, Austria.