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

Review of LabourSubscribe to Review of Labour

Miracle Worker or Womanmachine?

Bangladesh's successful entry into the world apparel market has been predicated on the deployment of a predominantly female industrial labour force. Bangladesh can be seen as a quintessentially global site - where the language of public discourse is dominated by a developmentalist vocabulary of civil society - human rights, women's development, citizenship. This essay points out that reducing the lives of Bangladeshi garment workers to a local variation on either the universally subordinated woman or the global worker exploited by capital obscures the implications of work for these women. Shifting the frame of analysis to a more experiential level allows us to overcome the more exclusionary aspects of an ostensibly culture neutral human rights discourse and offers a more complex lens with which to examine the conditions and contours of resistance.

Personal Responsibility among Puerto Rican Teenage Mothers in New York City

A central feature of current policy perspectives about teenage pregnancy and childbearing is the notion of personal responsibility, which emerged out of the most recent congressional discussions to reform the US system of welfare. As a key phrase, personal responsibility operates within a particular cultural logic designed to influence the public imagination about the social lives of young women who mother. Personal responsibility effectively redirects welfare debates away from the structural and political causes of poverty by emphasising the behaviours and decisions of individual women. Poverty becomes explained in terms of behavioural causes that delegitimate political and economic concerns. The portrait that emerges from the ethnographic data on young Puerto Rican mothers from a fieldwork study in New York city for all these young women personal responsibility appeared as an integral aspect of their struggle to support themselves and their children while living in families that were already economically precarious. It calls into question the image of teenage mothers as "feeding off the system" or as non-productive individuals. Such authoritative, state-sponsored cultural narratives about the lives of young mothers make it possible to deflect attention from the actual causes of the declining well-being of the nation. As a racial project, the principle of personal responsibility acts as a non-racial code word that signals to the "American people" who to blame for the decline of its economic (and political) hegemony.

Social Security of Labour in New Industrial Towns

Social security in the formal sector has an institutionalised expression. In case of the agrarian informal sector, pre-capitalist institutions of patronage perform this role of providing social security. In the case of the new industries, the process of flexibilisation has led to the generation of informal segments within the organised sector. Social security in this case is a complex issue since, firstly, it involves migration of labour from rural areas to what are termed as new townships; secondly, the labour in the new industries is recruited on contractual or casual basis; and thirdly, insecurity of employment prevents unionisation of labour. It is in this context that this paper attempts to define social security; conceptualise in what forms and through what institutions it finds an expression; and finally analyse what attributes enable access to these institutions.

Working Class Militancy in Endangered Sugar Industry

The sugar industry in its present co-operative-dominated form is under threat from the forces of privatisation and globalisation. Sugar factory labour, which has forged all-India solidarity, is fighting for the cooperatives' survival. The possibility of an alliance between these workers and the sugarcane cultivators, hitherto very inadequately mobilised against the threat, has become a real one.

New Technology and Textile Workers

This paper attempts to study two aspects of the relationship between new technology and employment in a composite textile mill in Mumbai. The specific objectives are to determine (a) the effect of new technology on employment at a unit level, and (b) the impact of new technology on the nature of work.

Employment in Smaller Indian Firms

How can Indian decision-makers take advantage of liberalisation to achieve economic growth and competitiveness, not as ends but as means to welfare and choice, social and sexual equality, and good work? Most new employment must be in small and medium enterprises, which have achieved some of these things elsewhere. Reviewed here are policies tried in India and elsewhere: protectionism plus privileges for small firms; 'real services' to promote flexible specialisation (Italy, Spain); long-term relationships between large firms and subcontractors (Japan); liberalisation to the limit (Britain, the US); education and training; promoting entrepreneurship, etc. Recent work on industrial districts suggests that Indian variants of flexible specialisation are emerging and can be promoted by suitable policies.

Organising the Unorganised

Social groups working in the informal sector as labourers are among the most neglected groups under the present pattern of capitalist development. The state does not acknowledge their presence, nor does civil society accord them respectable status. Trade unions too have mirrored this attitude and have, by and large, failed to make efforts at organising them. The Hamal Panchayat is a successful attempt at mobilising these workers and has been attempting to create a broad-based political alliance of unorganised workers and the urban poor forcing both the state and civil society to recognise their specific identities and acknowledge their contribution to the economy and society.

Labour Legislation and Social Justice

This paper attempts to articulate and understand the working of the labour relations law framework related to labour organisation and labour dispute processing as it stands structured in the Indian political economy: what does the working of the legal system actually reveal; what institutional processes and what forces exacerbate neutralisation of labour empowerment; who eventually benefits in the exercise; and what concrete manifestations of labour disempowerment processes are visible. The paper is an exercise in sociology of labour law. It is based on data related to sociological reconstruction of some labour organisation cases taken from the actual field setting.

Trade Unions and Women Workers in Tea Plantations

in Tea Plantations Kanchan Sarkar Sharit K Bhowmik Despite forming half the labour force in planations, women workers have remained marginalised in trade unions of plantation workers, A study of three tea plantations in the Dooars and Terai areas of north Bengal.

Industrial Sickness and Workers-Case of Gujarat Textile Industry

Case of Gujarat Textile Industry ISOLATED and sporadic closure of industrial units and bankruptcies are a normal feature in the developed economies all over the world. The incidence of closures tend to be high in economies characterised by fierce competition and in industries with a high degree of obsolescence. Developed economies with their well-established social security systems, easily take care of displaced workers by such closures, Margaret Thatcher succeeded in the privatisation programmes because UK had put into place a wide ranging social security system beginning in 1930. This provided education, housing and health cart and social security as doles and pensions. So even when labour is displaced, the social safety net ensured that basic needs were taken cart of. Developing economies with their limited investible resources and relatively limited alternative employment opportunities, however, cannot, easily afford their productive assets and labour force turning non-operational. The resultant loss of jobs, production and revenue are not easily absorbed and depending upon the number of persons involved may lead to serious consequences. Industrial sickness and resultant consequences have therefore to be handled carefully to see that its adverse impacts are least on workers and society.

Culture, Structure and Working Class Politics

Leela Fernandes This essay attempts to analyse certain forms of cultural politics as a means of demonstrating the varying layers of structural inequality that serve to constitute the working class. The author argues that criticisms of teleological, unitary conceptions of the working class do not necessitate a shift from but rather a revision of the ways in which we think of structural analysis. By examining the linkages between class, gender and community in the jute mills it is possible to move away from a focus on the ways in which cultural difference forecloses class politics to an understanding of the ways in which different forms of class-based political practices may contest and reproduce the intersecting structural hierarchies which constitute the working class.

Political Economy of Labour and Development in Kerala

in Kerala K P Kannan Kerala is well-known for its achievements in the sphere of social development that includes a rapid and high level mobilisation and organisation of workers regardless of location and sectoral occupation. However, such a process of social development without a commensurate transformation of the productive sectors has presented Kerala with some major dilemmas. This paper therefore takes a critical look at the political economy of labour and development by examining the roles of labour unions, state, and capital. The three dilemmas relate to (i) technological choice in the face of high and rising labour costs in labour-intensive activities for maximising long-term growth and employment, (ii) mismatch between labour-supply and labour demand as a result of changing job expectations of the younger generation in a technologically stagnant economy, and (iii) lack of new investment despite growing loanable funds and declining resistance to technological change. The failure of labour unions to agree to productivity improvements through technological changes and increasingly resorting to 'closed shop' strategies has been particularly emphasised.

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