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The Role of Corporate Social Responsibility and Soft Law Options in the Protection of Migrant Workers’ Interests in Host Countries — The Case of Malaysia

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Abstract This article examines the potential for corporate social responsibility (CSR) and other soft law initiatives in generating change for blue-collar migrant workers in the Malaysian workplace. We explain the absence thus far of adequate protection for blue-collar migrant labour in formal law and corporate governance from a ‘path-dependence’ perspective and examine the potential of soft law options and government policies on labour migration as possible catalysts of change. The impact of the 1997 Asian financial crisis in creating new corporate governance rules and government support for the development of CSR is discussed along with international initiatives, such as the United Nations Global Compact, whereby Malaysian companies have committed to playing a positive role in creating favourable outcomes for labour and human rights. Avenues of development vis-à-vis CSR and other soft law mechanisms for blue-collar migrant workers are offered. We conclude with a comment on the trajectory for CSR, soft law options and blue-collar migrant employee relations in Malaysia by highlighting the potential for hybrid labour regulation, whereby soft law may be hardened through creative methods of interpretation by the courts.

Affiliations: 1: University of Southern Queensland and University of Malaya

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/content/journals/10.1163/15685314-12341245
2012-01-01
2016-12-06

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