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

Review of LabourSubscribe to Review of Labour

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.

Soccer Ball Production for Nike in Pakistan

This paper looks at how Nike's soccer ball suppliers (previous and current) in Sialkot (Pakistan) fare in relation to the company's code of ethics. While minimum required working conditions are implemented, the criteria for social and environmental compliance are not met with. The multinational's decision to withdraw orders from the previous supplier ostensibly due to allegations of child labour and unauthorised subcontracting hit large sections of the workforce, especially rural, low-skilled and female workers. Is it fair for multinationals to cut and run in such cases or should they find a solution to save thousands of livelihoods?

Class in Industrial Disputes: Case Studies from Bangalore

The decline of the political significance of industrial conflicts is not quite a result of the structural changes in management-labour relations (as commonly thought) in these times of globalisation. It is more a consequence of the lack of an appropriate agency and politics among the working classes, despite their increasing incompatibilities with globalising capitalism. A set of case studies of manufacturing industries in Bangalore illustrates this point.

Optional or Imposed?

This paper attempts an ex post evaluation of the voluntary retirement scheme in Bharat Aluminium from a worker-oriented perspective. Apart from enquiring as to how the VRS optees assess the context in which they had to leave, the article also addresses various related aspects such as reskilling and rehabilitation measures, utilisation pattern of the VRS amount and post-VRS support. It is evident from the field study that many of the voluntarily retired workers were subject to several direct and indirect pressures, prior to their agreement to the voluntary separation scheme. The data also suggests that the support provided by the management during the pre- and post-VRS periods was grossly inadequate.

Accounting for 'Us' and 'Them'

What are the implications of globalisation on constructions of identity. This paper is based on an in-depth case study of a financial services company operating in the United Kingdom and Mumbai. It explores how ideas about British and Indian employees were constructed in our data, and how respondents accounted for the ways in which relationships between Indian and UK employees were enacted in this organisational context.

Labour and Closure of a Mill

In Kanpur, JK Cotton Spinning and Weaving Mills Company, the flagship of the erstwhile undivided JK Group, has been closed since 1989. The mill was closed while it was undergoing an ambitious modernisation programme with financial aid from several national financial institutions of India. The case has been under the purview of the Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction since 1991. The workers of JK Cotton have neither got any remuneration nor any compensation since 1989. This study is an attempt to understand the effect of the closure on the workers of the mill and the changes in their lives in the years since the mill was closed.

Disinterring the Report of National Commission on Labour

This paper disinters the report of the National Commission on Labour to reveal the ideological basis of the changes sought in the labour laws. Changes suggested in the labour laws flow from an understanding of labour that is derived from the perspective of capital. The policy goal of the NCL recommendations is to position labour in a manner that will ensure the expansion of competitive capitalism in India. The article deploys the class-focused Marxist approach to reveal how the NCL attempted to change the meanings of labour, the working day, work culture and indeed that of the labour rights as a whole.

Economic Liberalisation, Work and Democracy

Economic liberalisation has brought about significant changes in the experience and meanings of work, as well as in the social consciousness and political subjectivity of workers. This paper explores the transformation of ideas about the state, democracy and rights, and the impact on political action. A case study of declining jute industrial areas of Kolkata shows that the labouring poor interpret their experience of unemployment and "casualisation" not primarily as an economic phenomenon, but as a political crisis involving the betrayal of the working classes. This perception has led the poor to abandon political activism, to condemn democratic politics as unrepresentative, and to confine their engagement with institutional politics merely to extracting patronage benefits. Working class youth seek to exercise their agency within the urban locality in diverse ways, ranging from extortion and coercion to local community-oriented social work. Politics among this section of the poor is undergoing intense localisation, shunning the wider arena of democratic politics, thus spelling a crisis of political representation and participation.

Decent Work Deficits in Informal Economy

This paper illustrates the challenges involved in achieving "decent work", as conceptualised by the International Labour Organisation, in the urban informal economy through measuring decent work deficits among male and female workers in Surat. It assesses and contributes to existing attempts to measure decent work and then examines the prevalence of deficits and inadequate earnings in Surat, disaggregating the analysis by structural insecurities shaping informal work opportunities in India, specifically gender and activity status. The results provide guidance regarding what types of policies are most needed, and for which groups, in order to achieve "decent work for all" in urban India.

Collective Care Arrangements in the Informal Labour Market

Road transport workers struggle with low wages, long working hours, poor working conditions, occupational health hazards and lack of social protection. This paper provides an overview of the work environment, labour relations and working conditions in the road transport sector in Pakistan, addressing issues related to social security through collective action.

Unorganised Sector Workforce in India

India's workforce comprises nearly 92 per cent in the unorganised segment, with the entire farm sector falling under the informal category, while only one-fifth of the non-farm workers are found in the organised segment. Estimates suggest that in the non-farm sectors, as we move up the income ladder, the share of the informal sector gradually declines. However, as far as the agricultural sector is concerned, irrespective of economic class, the share of the unorganised workforce remains flat. Further analysis reveals that the coverage of social security schemes has been extremely sparse among the economically and socially vulnerable sections. The pro-rich, pro-capital policy of the present regime is reflected in the recent downward revision of the interest rate to the subscribers of provident fund. Further, the move towards defined contributory schemes away from defined benefit schemes of pension funds is fraught with danger. Therefore, we argue that given the poor affordability and lack of an institutional mechanism, any design of social security that relies heavily on a contributory basis is bound to fail dismally.

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