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

Review of LabourSubscribe to Review of Labour

Extending the Coverage of Minimum Wages in India: Simulations from Household Data

There is a debate in India about the possible extension of minimum wages to all wage-earners. This study provides some benchmark figures on the effects of either making the national minimum wage floor compulsory or extending the coverage of state-level minimum wages. Using the 2004-05 Employment- Unemployment Survey along with the Consumer Expenditure Survey, it estimates that the extension of minimum wages at existing levels could improve the earnings of 73 to 76 million low-paid salaried and casual workers. It also shows that if an extended minimum wage is perfectly enforced, it would substantially reduce inequality, poverty and the gender pay gap, even if there are some disemployment effects.

Impact of the Economic Crisis on Workers in the Unorganised Sector in Rajasthan

This article analyses the impact of the 2008-09 global economic meltdown on workers in the unorganised sector of the gem polishing and construction industries in Rajasthan. Based on a primary survey, it was found that in the initial phase of the crisis, workers trimmed their spending on their social life. This was followed by a reduction in expenditure on health and education. As the crisis persisted, they were left with little alternative but to cut down expenditure even on essentials like food, shelter, clothing, etc. Further, distress caused by unemployment and a drastic reduction of incomes exacerbated domestic conflict, violence and depression, the brunt of which was experienced by women and children. The study finds that the impact of the crisis varied between gem polishing and construction industries and it was more severe for workers in the lowest income group in both industries.

Global Crises, Welfare Provision and Coping Strategies of Labour in Tiruppur

Even as state governments invest in social welfare measures, they are forced into constant competition with one another to attract private investments, offering a good "investment climate" that includes access to a low cost workforce and a physical infrastructure geared towards capital accumulation. The need to provision welfare within an accumulation regime premised on global competition, fiscal austerity and marketisation, and a simultaneous need to reduce labour costs and to ensure social security, to exclude and include labour appears paradoxical. Does this emphasis on social welfare by the local state imply resistance to or accommodation of the current growth paradigm? How does such welfare provisioning influence livelihood strategies of labour embedded in global production networks and subject to flexibilisation? What are the new spaces of mobilisations that the regulatory imperatives open up? This paper addresses these questions through a microlevel study of worker livelihoods and state regulation in Tiruppur in Tamil Nadu that has been integrated into global networks of commodity production through garment exports.

Labour and Employment under Globalisation: The Case of Gujarat

On examining the dynamics of the processes of change in the status of labour and employment in the rapidly globalising state of Gujarat in India, this study shows that the rapid growth in the state has not been shared by labour. This has resulted in the state slipping in poverty reduction, human development and in hunger removal. This study also argues that an unfair deal to labour need not be a part of neo-liberal economic reforms and that providing a just share to labour can contribute towards promoting labour-intensive and equitable growth in the state.

Revisiting Labour and Gender Issues in Export Processing Zones: Cases of South Korea, Bangladesh and India

This essay re-evaluates the historical trajectories and outstanding labour and gender issues of Export Processing Zones/Special Economic Zones on the basis of the experiences of South Korea, Bangladesh and India. The findings suggest the necessity of enlarging our analytical scope with regard to epzs/sezs, which are inextricably connected with external employment structures. Further, the study calls for an immediate and comprehensive review of the labour and gender conditions in Indian sezs where workers are in a disadvantageous position not only against capital but also in comparison with workers in South Korean and Bangladeshi epzs/sezs.

Neoliberal Subjectivity, Enterprise Culture and New Workplaces: Organised Retail and Shopping Malls in India

With a case study of young workers in organised retail in shopping malls in Kolkata, this paper aims to illuminate how emerging labour processes as well as the organisation and culture of new workplaces in India today have far-reaching consequences beyond the economy and is transforming Indian society and politics in profound ways. With the adoption of market-driven and business-friendly public policy in India, new workplaces like shopping malls are playing a decisive part in crafting suitable workers and citizens, and in reshaping individual subjectivity, consonant with the needs of the market and of neoliberal governmentality for self-governing citizens and self-driven, pliant workers. The paper shows how young workers seek personal solutions to structurally or systemically generated problems in the economy and at the workplace; emphasise the responsibility, autonomy and agency of the self-driven, enterprising individual; disavow formal party politics and political engagement; negate the significance of the state in public policy; and allow both the government and employers to abdicate any responsibility for workers' and citizens' well-being.

Power, Inequality and Corporate Social Responsibility: The Politics of Ethical Compliance in the South Indian Garment Industry

Based on fieldwork in the Tiruppur garment manufacturing cluster in Tamil Nadu, this paper focuses on the ways in which ethical corporate regulations are shaped by and constitutive of power relations and inequalities in the global market. It explores the ways in which standards imposed on supply firms help to generate not only measurable and auditable changes in conditions of work, but also to mould social relationships between different actors in transnational production chains. It argues that codes and standards do not merely contribute to the manufacture of commodities to specified standards; they also generate new social regimes of power and inequality.

Defragmenting 'Global Disintegration of Value Creation' and Labour Relations

This paper tries to interpret the nature of emerging labour relations in the manufacturing sector in the era of globalisation in India. It shows how high road employment practices can exist only if conditions of competition are violated. It also argues that it is the control over value that determines the choice of the social mode of production and not the other way round. While arguing that it is not value chains but value cycles that generate different social modes of production relations, the paper tries to establish the existence of a global cost chain, which ultimately is borne by the most insecure and vulnerable social groups caught in an irresistible structural transition.

Beyond the Factory: Globalisation, Informalisation of Production and the New Locations of Labour

This essay foregrounds the phenomenon of informalised self-employment and explores its implications for potentially new forms of labour activism. The relation which defines the new location of labour is one in which the labourer is no longer a source of surplus, rather he/she is an unwanted possessor or occupier of economic resources from which he/she must be divorced to free those resources for use in the circuit of capital. This process of dispossession without proletarianisation or exploitation is referred to as exclusion. The traditional contradiction between wage-labour and capital is overshadowed by the contradiction between capital and a surplus labour force. Class politics - traditionally focused on exploitation of wage-labour - must reinvent itself to address the other great political movement shaping up around the exclusion of labour.

The Effects of Employment Protection Legislation on Indian Manufacturing

This paper extends an earlier critique (Bhattacharjea 2006) of the empirical literature on labour regulation and industrial performance in India, but focuses more narrowly on the impact of legal restrictions on layoffs, retrenchment and plant closures. After summarising the earlier paper, the variability of employment protection regimes across Indian states attributable to court judgments, a key factor which other authors have ignored, is described. The earlier literature has also ignored the possibility that firms may adapt to restrictions on labour flexibility via fragmentation and outsourcing of production. Some conclusions of the earlier studies are also undermined by lacunae in the official industrial statistics. The paper concludes by summarising the results of an empirical exercise based on an alternative methodology.

Labour, Class and Economy: Rethinking Trade Union Struggle

The fundamental challenge before the trade union movement is to find a new discursive space which will allow it to accommodate the reality of diverse labour practices and relate these practices to their created, appropriated and distributed wealth. For this to happen, the authors' provide a theory of labour that incorporates the varied labour practices and the manner in which wealth from these practices are appropriated, distributed and received, thereby widening the imagination of what is possible in trade union practice.

Employee Voice and Collective Formation in Indian ITES-BPO Industry

The growth of the information technology enabled services-business process outsourcing industry calls for attention to employees' working conditions and rights. Can an independent organisation such as unites Pro (the union of information technology enabled services professionals) represent employees' interests and effectively work towards protecting their rights and improving their working conditions? A survey of unites members indicates that they identify with the need for such an organisation to deal with poor supervisory and managerial treatment, concerns for employee safety, grievances related to pay and workload, and even the indignities of favouritism.

Pages

Back to Top