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

Review of LabourSubscribe to Review of Labour

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.

Creation of a Third World in the First

In this paper, the author argues that the creation of cheap labour economies in the third world results in the creation of cheap labour economies in the first world. Thus wage rates are depressed all over the world, making greater profits for the capitalists. An essential precondition to the depression of wage rates, therefore, is labour migration, both interstate and international.

Unfree Labour in South Asia

In defiance of specific national legislation and broader state commitments to international conventions, debt bondage continues to pervade agriculture, and has spread into small-scale industry in south Asia. This paper illustrates conditions in brick kilns of Pakistan, drawing attention to the interactions between low wages, debts and insecure shelter in perpetuating bondage for men, women and children, in an otherwise capitalist production system. As in sharecropping agriculture, payment by piece rates in kilns extracts a higher surplus via intensification of labour when low rates compel the use of family labour. Findings are based on rapid assessments at over 100 brick kilns in and around the urban and peri-urban areas of the districts of Hyderabad in Sindh; Multan, Lahore, Rawalpindi in Panjab; and Peshawar and Haripur in NWFP during 2002.

Methods and Materials on Marginal Workers' Experiences

This article explores the conduct of research on the cultural construction of craftswomen's work and self-employment, drawing on characteristics of feminist geographies and gender development methodology in a third world perspective. It discusses how the fieldwork has become an increasingly contested terrain and ambiguously problematised in feminist studies. It explores and describes the methodological and interpretive issues raised by a feminist narrative perspective when attempting to develop knowledge about the relations of power, women's perceptions, beliefs, and attitude concerning cultural constructions of female work and self-employment. Reflecting gendered spaces, the author has situated women workers' knowledge and specific type of consciousness valuable to them, while exploring intersections of narratives, gendered spaces and self-employment.

Indian Workers in UAE

The United Arab Emirates once formed a principal destination for Indian emigrants in search of jobs. But the fear of a rapid demographic imbalance has prompted a policy shift - 'emiritisation' - which has led to a decline in numbers of unskilled and skilled emigrant workers from India. This article examines the state of Indian emigrant labour to the UAE, the structure and conditions of employment.

Railway Porters of Mumbai

This article explores the scope and limitations of social capital and local forms of social security in the informal sector through a case study of railway coolies at Dadar station, Mumbai. The complex organisation of the coolies, virtually excluded from state or enterprise social security schemes, is able to generate and reproduce a strong source of social capital, reinforced through kin relations and ties with the villages of origin. However, the conditions under which these systems work and the prerequisites for building and maintaining trust and cooperation are very specific and therefore vulnerable.

Informal Labour Market and Structural Devolution

This paper discusses the dynamics of the labour market in the context of the structural changes in the rubber small-holding sector. The authors (a) analyse the processes determining tapping and its size in the small-holdings; (b) examine the inter-regional differences in wages, tapping tasks, employment and earnings of tappers; and (c) highlight emerging issues and their implications for the labour market.

Informal Labour in Brick Kilns

This paper reports a study of two brick kiln operations in northern India. These kilns operate in a largely unregulated manner in the informal sector and remain outside the purview of workplace laws, with workers bound to contractors and owners by the system of advance payments. Several committees have made recommendations to improve working conditions, but few of these have been implemented.

Changing Policy Regime and Labour

The changing policy orientation from mid-1980s onwards has serious implications for the institutions and actors involved in the process of industrialisation. The labour market is no exception. This paper tries to reflect on this change by understanding the politicaleconomic dynamics of change in a new industrial town Kothur in Mahabubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh.

Skill, Education and Employment

Unemployment is attributed to labour market deficiency in terms of shortage of skilled and educated labour force rather than to the deficiency of aggregate demand. This paper argues that an attempt to correct macro-policy distortion through micro interventions, would, in the skill hierarchy and job competition models, have the consequences of overcrowding, bumping down of low skilled workers and create rather a larger pool of surplus skilled as well as unskilled labour force. The demand constrained economy of India needs a better policy perspective for manpower planning.

Arguing for 'Industrial Relations'

This paper argues that the bilateral nature of labour-management relations is being obfuscated today by a unitarian management project. Democracy in the business organisation and the workplace in particular has to have an organic evolution and not through a motivation plan from above. Institutions of industrial relations including the union and collective bargaining can be the best via media for bringing in new institutions that are genuinely imbued with a participative and cooperative character. The paper reviews a sample of contemporary writings that focus on why unions still matter, new possibilities for unions and union-participatory approaches to management.

Child Labour: A Perspective of Locale and Context

The occasional spurts of attention that child labour has gained in the recent past following the debates on globalisation and its impact have often raised only a cacophonic noise instead of a coherent understanding of the issues. What are the divergences in the perspectives on child labour? This article attempts to locate the issues in the large context of child rights by reviewing policies and attempts to detail the construct of childhood in India mapping the ambiguities regarding children's work and education.


Back to Top