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Equal pay and dilemmas of justice

Cathrine Holst

No 32, RECON Online Working Papers Series from RECON

Abstract: Equal pay for work of equal value is a fundamental principle in EU law and so in the EEA Agreement. The paper takes as its point of departure the debate in Norway on the interpretation of EEA equal pay legislation, and relates this debate to the broader equal pay controversy in Norway. Among arguments on both sides in these debates have been arguments about what is right and just: Whereas proponents for strong equal pay commitments typically stress that social justice requires work of equal value to be paid as equally as possible, if necessary by means of state intervention and law enforcement (the law enforcement position), proponents for weaker equal pay commitments stress typically either (1) the relative justice of markets; pay ought primarily to be distributed through markets and according to market value and not according to some market-external equality standard (the free market position), or (2) that wages should be set as far as possible by strong democratic unions that negotiate with employers and employers’ organizations (the collective bargaining position). The paper focuses on the law enforcement /collective bargaining confrontations and interprets these confrontations as reflecting dilemmas of justice (Nancy Fraser); in part a redistribution/recognition dilemma; in part a justice-from-above/justice-from-below dilemma. Finally, the paper investigates to what extent these dilemmas are genuine. Are there ways to narrow down the gap between the law enforcement camp and the collective bargaining camp?

Keywords: democracy; gender policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2011-12-15
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hme, nep-hpe and nep-lab
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