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The structural crisis of labour flexibility: strategies and prospects for transnational labour organising in the garment and sportswear industry

Merk, Jeroen (2007) The structural crisis of labour flexibility: strategies and prospects for transnational labour organising in the garment and sportswear industry. In: Business, Social Policy and Corporate Political Influence in Developing Countries, 2007-02-12 - 2007-02-13.

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Abstract

The garment and athletic footwear industry are characterised by a structural crisis of labour flexibility. Barriers to unionisation, the structural power of capital and the stubborn adherence to export-led growth all combine to create a structural crisis of labour flexibility in the countries at the producing end of the global garment and athletic footwear chain. At the core of this structural crisis of labour flexibility lies a functional divide in the organisation of production and consumption between sourcing companies (brands and retailers) one the one hand and export-oriented manufacturers on the other. This paper will first present three closely inter-related reasons why the crisis of labour flexibility has acquired structural characteristics. The use of structural denotes here that substandard working conditions are not isolated or anecdotic accidents but part of a structured pattern of exploitation and abuse. These practices are not uncontested: labour struggles in the factories and countries of production as well as public discontent in areas of consumption concerning substandard labour conditions brings the issue back to the various corporate headquarters in New York, London, Tokyo Amsterdam, or Paris. The second part of the paper discusses the main anti-sweatshop strategies the Clean Clothes Campaign has developed since the early 1990s. Section three discusses three comprehensive counter-strategies, that is, strategies that seek to address the various dimensions of the structural crisis of labour flexibility and coordinated around different scales of political action and organising. The challenge here is to propose regulatory action that would empower workers at these different scales (local, regional and sector-wide) simultaneously.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Official URL: http://www.unrisd.org/
Additional Information: © 2007 The Author
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Date Deposited: 09 May 2014 15:03
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2020 23:15
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/56700

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