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In this work the author tries to uncover the parameters the labour legislators used in the development of labour protection. He formulates a number of theses that allow him to establish a theory of labour law. The themes dealt with in this work fit in an overall vision on labour in its relation with capital as dealt with in law. In this concept labour law is seen as a field of tension between an economically imposed mainly free labour market on the one hand and citizenship ensuing from the political order as the ultimate justification of the correction of the market on the other. The steps taken by the labour and social legislator do indeed hover between those two poles. Even though the legislator does not want to (and is not able to?) question the principle of the free labour market he does give shape to a person’s fundamental right to have a decent life within the domain of labour relations and social relations. Through the study of labour law as a synthesis of citizenship and social competition the fundamental relationship between the economic and political order is examined. The protection offered by labour law is pressed between citizenship and the social competition imposed by the economic order. The labour legislator invokes the political legitimacy (of the sovereign nation) to adjust the economic power and economic order.
Professor Marc Rigaux teaches labour law at the Law Faculty of the University of Antwerp. Since 2002 he is an assessor with the legal department of the Belgian Council of State. In his publications he focuses on collective labour relations and job security. During the academic year 2002-2003 he was lecturer-in-charge of the National Francqui Chair at the Faculty of Law of the Free University of Brussels. This publication is the written (and updated) rendering of five of the eight lectures the author gave during the lecture series “Between citizenship and social competition”.