Martine D'Amours



The decentralization of productive processes through vehicles such as the network firm or global value chain has led to a significant and well-documented growth of inequality in wages and other work conditions. Some attempts have been made at the Québec, ILO and European Union levels to combat the inequality associated with atypical employment, through legislative measures aimed at combating treatment disparities based on employment status. In this paper, the author evaluates the effectiveness of these measures by proposing and testing a new analytical model — one which distinguishes between the location of production (or work activity) and the nature of the employment relationship. Production may be either decentralized or centralized, and within each of those options, the employment relationship may be either externalized or internalized. Thus, the model generates four possible combinations or “quadrants” in which to map an area for comparison of employment conditions. Within each quadrant, the author assesses the legislative tools intended to address treatment disparities based on status, concluding in each case that they fall well short of what is needed. Ultimately, she argues that the definition of treatment disparities must be broadened to take into account the social division of labour within the network firm. Accordingly, disparity of treatment should be found to exist whenever groups of workers doing the same or equivalent work within the same network firm are provided with different employment conditions.