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This paper argues that the NGO position on global labour rights is mistaken. NGOs’ concerns over race and gender inequalities and their rejection of the primacy of class in today’s global, capitalist economy have frustrated the project of incorporating labour rights into the global free trade regime. Trade unions, meanwhile, are one of the few agencies dedicated to dissolving class inequalities, especially between workers in the North and the South. Until NGOs rethink their position on class, trade unions are the only agency capable of pushing the labour rights agenda forward.

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