Book Launch: Structural Injustice and Workers’ Rights
Virginia Mantouvalou, Professor of Human Rights and Labour Law at UCL Faculty of Laws
Manoj Dias-Abey, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Bristol and the Co-Director of the Centre for Law at Work.
Bridget Anderson, Professor of Mobilities, Migration and Citizenship, the University of Bristol
Samantha Currie, Reader in Law at the University of Liverpool
Emily Kenway, a writer, activist and policy adviser, Edinburgh University
Notes & Changes
This is a hybrid event. It will be held in-person in the Sir Joseph Hotung Auditorium at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights. To attend the event online, please register here.
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The Bonavero Institute of Human Rights is delighted to host the launch of the book Structural Injustice and Workers’ Rights, by Prof. Virginia Mantouvalou.
When discussing exploitation in workplaces, governments typically deploy a rhetoric of personal responsibility. They place attention on employers who take advantage of workers, or on workers who choose non-standard, precarious work arrangements. On this account, the responsibility of the state is to address the harm inflicted by private actors.
This book questions the heavy focus on individual responsibility for precarious work and develops the concept of ‘state-mediated structural injustice at work’. We observe this when legislation that has an appearance of legitimacy has effects that are very damaging for large numbers of people, constituting a major cause of structures of exploitation at work. The book uses a series of examples, such as migrant workers, captive workers, people under welfare conditionality schemes and other precarious workers, to show how the law creates structures of injustice, making exploitation long-term, standard and routine. It also assesses these examples against human rights principles - both civil and political and economic and social rights. The aim of the book is to show that both the overall structures and parts of those structures routinely lead to workers’ exploitation that may give rise to state responsibility for human rights violations, and that there is a pressing need for reform.
Virginia Mantouvalou is Professor of Human Rights and Labour Law at UCL, Faculty of Laws. Her research has appeared in leading journals. Her most recent co-edited book, Philosophical Foundations of Labour Law (with Hugh Collins and Gillian Lester), was published by OUP in 2018. She has received several awards for her research, including a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship and a UCL Provost Award for Public Engagement for her research collaboration with the NGO Kalayaan (working on the rights of domestic workers). Her work has been cited by courts, including the Constitutional Court of South Africa and the European Court of Human Rights. She is Articles Co-Editor of the Modern Law Review, member of the editorial board of the Stanford Studies in Human Rights, Co-Editor of the UK Labour Law Blog and the Studies in Law and Social Justice and was Joint Editor of Current Legal Problems. She has held visiting positions at Georgetown University Law Centre in Washington DC and the Universite Libre de Bruxelles. She has worked as specialist advisor to the UK Joint Committee on Human Rights and as consultant for the ILO and the Council of Europe, and is Chair of Kalayaan.
Manoj Dias-Abey is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Bristol and currently the Co-Director of the Centre for Law at Work. He teaches and researches in the areas of labour and migration law. His current research uses law and political economy frameworks to understand the role played by legal institutions in mediating the impact of non-citizen workers on the labour market. He also draws on socio-legal frameworks to analyse the strategic litigation tactics of unions and labour organisations that represent migrant workers. Manoj has published his research in various leading law journals and reviews, including the Industrial Law Journal, International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations, Australian Journal of Labour Law, and Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. He has also written for generalist publications, such as Futures of Work, Boston Review, Institute of Employment Rights blog, Migration Mobilities Bristol blog, and Law & Political Economy Blog.
Bridget Anderson is Professor of Mobilities, Migration and Citizenship at the University of Bristol and Director of its Specialist Research Institute Migration Mobilities Bristol. Before that she was the research director at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society at the University of Oxford. She is a sociologist by training and has written extensively on citizenship, racism and methodological nationalism. She has an honorary doctorate at the University of Malmö and was the City of Malmö Visiting Professor of Migration Studies.
Shreya Atrey is an Associate Professor in International Human Rights Law based at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights. She is an Editor for the Human Rights Law Review and an Official Fellow of Kellogg College. Her research is on discrimination law, feminist theory, poverty and disability law. Her monograph, Intersectional Discrimination (OUP 2019), which won the runners-up Peter Birks Book Prize in 2020, presents an account of intersectionality theory in comparative discrimination law. Her work has been cited by the South African Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of India. Shreya is currently working on project on 'Equality Law in Times in Crisis' funded by the British Academy. Previously, Shreya was based at the University of Bristol Law School as a Lecturer in Law. She was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute, Florence and a Hauser Postdoctoral Global Fellow at the NYU School of Law, New York. She completed BCL with distinction and DPhil in Law on the Rhodes Scholarship from Magdalen College, University of Oxford.
Samantha Currie is currently a Reader in Law at the University of Liverpool. Her research focuses on engagement of survivors of trafficking with law and policy processes, with a particular focus on the nexus between migration and modern slavery. She held a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship to conduct a socio-legal investigation into the role of lawyers who represent victims of trafficking (2021-22). She is currently writing a monograph based on this work to be published by Hart. Samantha also led a Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre project on access to legal advice and representation for survivors of modern slavery (2020-21) which highlighted particular challenges in access to legal aid. Previously, Samantha collaborated on a British Academy-funded project on transparency in supply chains in the food and garment industries. She also has an interest in EU citizenship and has published extensively on the migration status and experiences of migrants from the 2004 EU accession states within the UK. In August 2023 she will take up a position as Associate Professor at Monash University’s Law Faculty.
Emily Kenway is a writer, activist and policy adviser. She has spent over a decade working in the social justice sector, including at the Living Wage Foundation, for the UK's first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and at Focus on Labour Exploitation. Her first book, 'The Truth about Modern Slavery' (Pluto, 2021), was described as a 'powerful treatise' by the Guardian. It explored the political origins and implications of the 'modern slavery' narrative of exploitation. In her second book, 'Who Cares: the Hidden Crisis of Caregiving and How We Solve It' (Hachette, 2023), Emily investigated unpaid caregiving, inspired by her own experience as the caregiver for her mother. 'Who Cares' combines interviews with caregivers from around the globe, academic and practitioner experts, and insights from scholarship, to explain how caregiving shapes and impacts lives today and what must change. It has been called 'a radical vision' by Lady Brenda Hale. Emily writes for a wide range of publications and provides regular guest lectures and talks on trafficking and on care. She currently sits on the boards of Common Wealth think tank and National Ugly Mugs, while completing a PhD and teaching at Edinburgh University.
Maayan Niezna is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Modern Slavery and Human Rights at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, and a Fellow of the Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre. Her research focuses on trafficking for labour exploitation and the regulation of labour migration. She holds PhD in Law from Kent Law School, MSc in Human Rights from the London School of Economics, and LL.B in Law and Philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Prior to her doctoral studies, she led the legal work on trafficking at the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants-Israel, and worked on issues related to trafficking at the Office of the National Anti-trafficking Coordinator, Israeli Ministry of Justice, and UNHCR. Her work on trafficking and slavery has been cited by NGOs, policymakers, and Israel’s Supreme Court.