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

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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.

The Growth Miracle, Institutional Reforms and Employment in China

China's economy has recorded extraordinarily rapid growth for more than two decades. What have been the employment effects of this growth? And to what extent have these effects been conditioned by the institutional reforms? The paper focuses on the period 1990-2005. Rapid economic growth was indeed associated with a high-speed increase in productive employment. Surplus labour declined substantially; many workers moved from lower-productivity to higher-productivity jobs and labour-incomes increased in all types of employment. However, there have been some negative developments too. In particular, given that the formal sector had inherited substantial stocks of surplus labour from the past, economic restructuring and labour market reforms resulted in declining formal employment and growing urban unemployment for a period.

Labour Regulation and Employment Protection in Europe: Some Reflections for Developing Countries

A review of evidence on employment and wages from selected European Union countries leads one to surmise that in the context of developing countries, we tend to judge the performance of labour regulatory regimes more in terms of their impact on employment creation. Inadvertently though, we seem to foist a false idiom, since a job-creating function is beyond the terms of reference of any protectionist labour regulation. What is important in developing countries is to facilitate a rapid, but endogenous evolution of labour institutions that can protect workers' rights and remain friendly to job-creation. This requires a fresh look at some national level policies and programmes, which are not necessarily in the domain of labour relations.

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.

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.

Labour Market Mobility of Low Income Households

According to the "over-urbanisation" thesis, migrants move into the urban areas in search of jobs, and in the face of limited employment opportunities in the high productivity industrial sector, they continue to work in low productivity activities. Urban poverty here is a spillover of rural poverty. But why do migrants not return to the rural areas if they continue to be engaged in low productivity activities? The reason could be that the informal sector offers them a better source of livelihood compared to rural avenues. This argument prompts us to pose a number of questions from an empirical standpoint. Based on primary surveys of slum dwellers in Delhi, the author examines if workers managed to experience a change in their occupation, over time. Even when the broad occupation categories remain the same, does the nature of employment change and do income levels rise? If so, what role do networks play in helping them access better paying jobs. The findings tend to support upward mobility in a limited sense though.

Contract Labour in Karnataka

In order to effectively compete in a global market the industrial sector demands flexibility. To circumvent rigidities imposed by labour laws, the new form of employment that is being created in the economy is largely contractual. Based on a field survey, this paper looks at the status of contract labour in the state of Karnataka. The study finds that while a number of large firms pay wages above the minimum wage fixed by the state and support an increase in the minimum wage levels, a considerable number of small firms exploit the contract workers in various ways, including through non-payment of minimum wages. The study finds an urgent need to improve the social security network and supervisory mechanism for contract labour in the state.

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