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Human rights in industrial relations – the Israeli approach

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Basic human rights are supposed to protect people from abuse and harm. They are the means whereby we protect our humanity. One would expect, therefore, that basic human rights would be valid and sacred in any context, including industrial relations. However, the complexity of the employee–employer relationship obscures this issue, and it is not clear whether such rights can be protected or whether they are valid in the context of industrial relations. Since rights are relational, they are preconditioned on the special nature of the relationship between employee and employer. Hence, the specific meaning that these rights have in industrial relations cannot be grounded in the notion of human rights as such, but rather depends on the special relationships between employers and employees. Though much legislation has been passed to regulate the relationship between employees and employers, the issues surrounding this relationship remain one of the most debated topics in business ethics. Our paper focuses specifically on the right to equal pay and the right to privacy. With respect to the right to property, the paper examines whether there is a conflict between general human rights and the fundamental right of employers to their property. The Israeli legislature has responded to this conflict by enacting ‘protective laws’ that legally outline and mandate certain human rights. Under these laws, employees are prevented and prohibited from waiving the rights granted to them by law, even if employed in private industries. Despite this legislative effort, market forces are at times stronger, and consequently some basic rights are not fully applied or implemented.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Ben–Gurion University of the Negev, Beer–Sheva, Israel

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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