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FairWRC hosts major international conference

The Fairness at Work Research Centre (FairWRC) recently held its third international conference focusing on enhancing questions of standards and practices at work.

The two-day event in Manchester, entitled Fairer Futures? Understanding Standards and Practices at work in a challenging global context, was linked with the inaugural conference of the Health Services Research Centre, and focused on questions of fairness in employment relations and service related issues in the health and care sectors.

Professor Miguel Martinez Lucio said the conference was driven by a concern with challenges on labour and employment standards. As he explained: “Increasingly, organisations and governments are confronted with the need to be more transparent and rigorous in the way they sustain labour standards and develop rights. Yet the emergent agenda in the past few decades to enhance and raise the working conditions of individuals has been under enormous pressure throughout the developed and developing world. The pressures for cost savings and the adoption of organisational techniques which intensify work across the global supply chains are impacting on many workers.”

Among the keynote speakers was writer Madeleine Bunting who said the political and financial issues we see around care today stem from the fact that we are not recognising the fundamental importance of care to human wellbeing.

“It is becoming more important to ensure that various people make enough money out of it, or that various people do or don’t pay for it. It has become an argument around finance rather than a debate about what is it to be human and what are our responsibilities to each other to ensure the adequate provision of good quality care.”

Fellow speaker Rosemary Batt, Professor of Women and Work at Cornell University, said all countries were struggling with similar issues over the financing of their healthcare systems.

Her lecture focused on how US cities now increasingly outsource public services to Private Equity (PE) firms which have become an institutionalised part of the healthcare system.

She said that in the wake of the Obamacare legislation, PE was now investing in different areas such as clinics and outpatient services. “It is looking for parts of the supply chain where it can play a role.”