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Globalisation and Labour

The discourse on labour in the era of globalisation has gone in several directions. A central question has been ignored by this literature: in a period of marketisation, labour is disempowered on several dimensions: the numerical decline of the organised workforce; weakening trade unions; and, frequently, the politically right-ward turn of social democratic parties which shift to neo-liberal, market oriented policies. This essay provides, in brief outline, a discussion of some important shifts in labour's position in the current era when the economic policy framework has been pulled gradually, but definitively, towards greater measure of integration with markets, both domestic and global. In particular, the focus here is on the shrinking of the organised sector, the world of informal labour, inadequacy of social security nets, and the changing dynamics of trade union functioning.

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