ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Labour Activism and Women in the Unorganised Sector

Wages and working conditions in Bangalore?s rapidly expanding garments export sector, employing a large number of women, remain completely unregulated. Governments and mainstream trade unions have been largely indifferent to this sector. A number of NGOs and new trade unions have now stepped into this vacuum. Their framework of activism focusses on developmentalism of a certain kind ? credit associations, slum or neighbourhood development, internationalising the issue of workers? rights ? rather than on confrontational struggles over wages and working conditions. This genre of activism is based on a broad understanding of the informal sector, where a large number are self-employed, as one in which the employer-employee or capital-labour relationship is opaque, if not absent. However, this understanding and activism may indeed be limited in a context where capital is internationalised and labour is recast, into contractual, casualised, and in this case, feminised, workforce.

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