Conceptualising CSR in the context of the shifting contours of Australian employment regulation

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Journal Article
Labour and Industry: a journal of the social and economic relations of work, 2013, 23 (1), pp. 54 - 68
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The changing structure of modern business poses challenges for employment regulation in Australia, which has historically relied upon an `implicit model of corporate social responsibility (CSR) (commonly associated with strong state-mandated protections). Traditionally, such regulation has privileged the direct employment relationship, but the dramatic expansion of insecure and non-standard employment arrangements, encouraged by the proliferation of complex supply chains, raises questions about the ongoing durability of this regulatory model to provide appropriate labour standards for a growing cohort of workers. In an attempt to preserve some semblance of implicit CSR, particularly the centrality of state involvement in determining and enforcing labour standards, some Australian unions have developed strategies to advance new forms of labour regulation. This article examines four such strategies based on the logic of `sustainable sourcing in the road transport, cleaning, textile clothing and footwear and aged care industries. Although these strategies can be understood as a broader form of implicit CSR transposed onto multiple firms in a supply chain, they represent a notable departure from traditional union regulatory strategies based on the logic of implicit CSR centred on the individual employer.
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