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6th Regulating for Decent Work Conference

Work and well-being in the 21st century

The world of work is undergoing major transformations as a result of new business models supported by technological change, shifts in the global economy, demographics and other factors that will continue, and potentially intensify, in the future. These transformations are impacting on working conditions and workers’ well-being in a complex manner, while also posing new questions for institutions governing the employment relationship and changing boundaries between formal and informal segments of the economy in both industrialized and developing countries. At the same time, extreme poverty persists in many regions of the world, and rising inequality along with environmental degradation continues to be a challenge.

The RDW conference in 2017 explored some of the key dimensions which have impacted the world of work. The 2019 RDW conference will continue to focus on the future of work, to advance our understanding of what innovative institutions and transformative policies could help in ensuring a more equitable and just society. Papers are invited to propose new ideas and policies that could help the global community in shaping a better future of work with a focus on: (i) transitions and transformations in the world of work; (ii) rethinking capitalism; (iii) well-being in the world of work; and (iv) building and renewing institutions: a social contract for the 21st century. This conference will contribute to the global debates during the ILO’s 100th anniversary in 2019.

The 6th RDW Conference will be held in the International Labour Office, Geneva, from 8–10 July 2019. The Conference will be co-hosted by the University of Amsterdam’s Institute for Labour Studies / Hugo Sinzheimer Instituut (AIAS-HSI), the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Employment and Labour Relations Law (CELRL), Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Centre for Informal Sector and Labour Studies (CISLS), the University of Durham’s Law School (DLS), Cornell University’s Industrial and Labour Relations (ILR) School, the University of Duisburg-Essen’s Institut Arbeit und Qualifikation (IAQ), the Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA), the Korea Labour Institute (KLI), and the University of Manchester’s Work and Equalities Institute (WEI). Researchers from all regions are welcome. In past years, the Conference has attracted researchers from a range of fields that include law, economics, industrial relations, development studies and geography.

Main Events

Day 1: Keynote Address – Rethinking value creation: Innovation led inclusive growth - July 8th, 9h30 to 11h, GB Room

Mariana Mazzucato is Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL), where she is Founding Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose (IIPP).

She is winner of prizes including the 2018 Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought and the 2019 All European Academies Madame de Staël Prize for Cultural Values.

Her bookThe Entrepreneurial State: debunking public vs. private sector myths (2013) investigates the role of public organizations in playing the ‘investor of first resort’ role in the history of technological change. Her 2018 book The Value of Everything: making and taking in the global economy (2018) was a 2018 Strategy & Business Book of the Year and was shortlisted for the 2018 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year prize.

She advises policy makers around the world on innovation-led inclusive growth and is currently a Special Advisor for the EC Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, and is author of the high impact EC report on Mission-Oriented Research & Innovation in the European Union.

Rethabile’s Story: Documentary and Roundtable Discussion Cinema Room, 18h-19h30

Rethabile’s Story explores daily life in the Lesotho garment sector through the eyes of an ex-factory worker and her friends. The film will be followed by a roundtable discussion on the future of the garment sector - and labour rights - in sub-Saharan Africa.

Rethabile’s Story was filmed and directed by Darren Hutchinson (Dreamscope Productions) in collaboration with the project on Decent Work Regulation in Africa. Funded by the UK Global Challenges Research Fund and Economic and Social Research Council.

Day 2: Plenary Session: Technology and well-being in the world of work - July 9th, 17h30 to 19h, GB Room

Changes in working practices, demographics, technology and the drive towards sustainable development are creating challenges but also new opportunities to improve the well-being of workers. Technology, such as digitization, automation and robotics, can affect psychosocial health and introduce new materials with unmeasured health hazards, but it can also improve the well-being of the workers. Changes in the organization of work can bring flexibility that allows more people to enter the labour force, but may also lead to psychosocial issues, and excessive work hours affecting work-life balance. Climate change can give rise to risks such as air pollution, heat stress, emerging diseases, shifting weather and temperature patterns that can bring job losses, while new jobs can be created through the green economy.

This plenary session will examine the complex implications of technology for well-being and develop possible policy responses. It will discuss ways of anticipating new and emerging risks to workers, adopting a more multidisciplinary approach and building stronger links to public health. This plenary brings together experts from different walks of life to discuss how law, science and technology, psychology, sociology and general human resource management can address the concerns of a worker in today’s world, and debate on how technology is affecting well-being at work.

Panel Speakers

Moderator: Manal Azzi, Occupational Health and Safety Specialist, ILO, Geneva

Prof. Maureen Dollard, Director, Asia Pacific Centre for Work Health and Safety at the University of South Australia will talk about the impact of organisational and workplace changes on the psychological health of workers. 

Prof. Paul A. Schulte, Director, Division of Science Integration at the NIOSH-CDC will talk about the impact of technology on employment, and will focus on the enabling and replacement technologies that could help in improving the well-being of workers.

Dr. María José González, Political Scientist, M.P.H., Researcher, Work, Employment, Equity and Health Program (TEES) at FLACSO-Chile will bring in the impact of changing technology on the working and employment conditions and their effects on health.

Prof. Hamid Ekbia, Director, Center for Research on Mediated Interaction and Professor, Informatics, International Studies, and Cognitive Science at the Indiana University, will focus on how technologies mediate cultural, socio-economic, and geo- political relations of modern societies.

Day 3: Plenary Session: Global Commission on the Future of Work for a brighter future - July 10th, 16h to 17h30, GB Room

The Global Commission on the Future of Work released its report “Work for a brighter future” on 22 January 2019 marking the launch of the Centenary celebrations. The report calls for a human-centered agenda for the future of work that puts people and the work they do at the centre of social, economic, and environmental policies. The human-centred agenda focusses on three priorities for action: increasing investment in people’s capabilities, increasing investment in institutions, and increasing investment in decent and sustainable work.

This plenary brings together experts from different disciplines and regions to discuss and reflect upon the Global Commission report. The panellists will also discuss whether the report adequately addresses some of the current challenges that we face, especially technology, demography, and climate change.

Panel Speakers

Moderator: Damian Grimshaw, Director of Research, ILO, Geneva

Dr Laura Barbosa de Carvalho, Associate Professor Department of Economics, University of São Paulo.

Professor Khalid Nadvi, Professor, International Development and Political Economist, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester.

Professor Nicholas A. Ashford, Professor, Technology & Law Program, Sociotechnical Systems Research Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Professor Virginia Doellgast, Associate Professor and Chair of International & Comparative Labor, ILR School, Cornell University.