Globalisation & labour


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In the rapidly changing world, ideologies are giving way to practical economics, business sense and market compulsions. World economies are converging into a global village economy. Rapid technological progress in communication and transport sectors, have made movements of goods, services, capital, professional and workers extremely fast. National economic reforms are guided by the global economic order defined by the world capitalism.
Women and Structural Adjustment in India
In response to a mounting burden of debt leading to a balance of payment crisis, the Government of India (GOI) adopted a structural adjustment programme (SAP) in 1991 officially declared as New Economic Policy. It included reductions in public investment, devaluation, cutting food and fertilizers subsidies, dismantling of public distribution system, the reduction of budgetary provision for developmental planning/social sector, capital intensive and 'high-tech' productive activities, economies in government expenditure, an increase in the bank rate, insurance charges and rail tariffs. Simply put, the policy aimed at capital, energy and import-intensive growth with the help of 4 "Ds" - devaluation, deregulation, deflation and denationalisation. The mainstream economists call this process as “economic reforms”.
This policy has intensified the processes pursued in the last decade and a half (mainly in the post-emergency period), as a result of a new international division of labour between the advanced capitalist economies and the post-colonial economies of Asia, Africa and Latin America as per Washington consensus in 1992. The national and multinational corporations in the USA and Europe realized that the best way to reduce the wage-bill and to enhance profit rates was to move industrial plants to poorer countries like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, etc. The cheap labour of 'docile', 'nimble fingered' and 'flexible' Asian women from the rural hinterlands -the last colony was found to be most attractive step to enhance profit margins. This policy was given the appealing title of 'Integration of Women in Development.'
The new strategy of 'Integration of Women into Development' meant in most cases getting women to work in some income-generating activities, integrating women into market oriented production and thus integrating women into the world market economy. It was not meant that women should expand their subsistence production and produce more for their consumption - for their own food and their clothes. Income-generation in this approach meant money income. Money income could be generated only if women could produce something, which could be sold. People who could buy these products belong to the upper strata of economic hierarchy.

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Globalisation & labour

  1. 1. Globalisation & Labour ( Prepared for Seminar during on 24-10-07 at Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Labour, Ahmedabad) Prof. Vibhuti Patel (Director, P.G. S. R.) (Head), Department of Economics SNDT Women’s University, Smt. Nathibai Road, Churchgate, Mumbai-400020 Phone-26770227®, (O) 22052970
  2. 2. Globalisation-A Historical Context <ul><li>Marked feature of neo liberal policy is enlightened self- interest activated through market forces. </li></ul><ul><li>Challenges before the working class movement </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Asian Scenario <ul><li>South Asian (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Srilanka, Nepal), South East Asia (Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia) countries, Indochina (Laos, Kampuchea and Vietnam) and China is flooded with Sweatshops, ghetto labour markets and stigmatised migrant workers. </li></ul><ul><li>ASEAN countries have recently discussed establishment of Special Economic Zones that would ensure flexibalisation of the labour force to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). </li></ul>
  4. 4. New Forms of Plunder <ul><li>Primitive accumulation in its classical form included plunder, slavery and colonialism, while primitive accumulation in the contemporary period includes sweat- shops, labour concentration camps and criminalisation of the working class. </li></ul><ul><li>In 1998, the world economy had 1.2 billion poor i.e. population with an income of less than 1 dollar per capita per day . </li></ul><ul><li>Arjun Sengupta Committee Report: Almost 400 million people – more than 85% of the working population in India – work in the unorganised sector. Of these, at least 120 million are women. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Stabilisation Policies and SAP <ul><li>As a result of Structural Adjustment Programme, sacked/ retrenched formal sector workers and employees are forced to work in the informal sector. Victims of Voluntary Retirement Scheme have downward economic mobility. </li></ul><ul><li>Rationalisation, mechanisation and automation have had labour reducing implications . </li></ul>
  6. 6. Social Tensions <ul><li>Massive Urban unemployment and rural underemployment and disguised unemployment have resulted into social tensions in terms of ethnic and religious chauvinism in several Asian countries. </li></ul><ul><li>Incidents of economic crimes have risen drastically . </li></ul>
  7. 7. Ethnic & Communal Tensions <ul><li>Co-existence of high wage islands in the sea of pauperised working class has enhanced human misery and social conflict in the context of massive reduction in the welfare budgets of the nation states in South Asia and South East Asia. </li></ul><ul><li>With rising ethnic and communal tension jeopardising economic activities, visible and invisible activities of underground extra-legal economy is displaying a tendency to expand. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Dual Economy Model <ul><li>INDIVIDUALS WITH SIMILAR LEVELS OF EDUCATION & SKILLS get differential wages due to casualisation of the workforce. Introduction of contract system in public sector has institutionalised neo-liberal dual economy model. </li></ul><ul><li>Racist Wage Policies </li></ul>
  9. 9. Job & Wage Discrimination <ul><li>Immigrants face job discrimination in pre-entry phase & wage discrimination in post entry phase. They remain the first to be fired and the last to be hired. </li></ul><ul><li>Dualistic Models in the Asian region, promotes differentiation based on language, caste, religion, ethnic background and exclusion from informal network for upward economic mobility . </li></ul>
  10. 10. External Sector <ul><li>Majority of the toiling poor rot in the external sector in which real wages change at disparate rates. </li></ul><ul><li>Institutions like extended family, caste and village nexus play an important role in providing safety nets to migrant workers. </li></ul><ul><li>GHETTO LABOUR MARKETS </li></ul><ul><li>Burgeoning GHETTO LABOUR MARKETS are perpetuating the law of jungle in the industrial scenario. As a result a situation arises where legal apartheid faced by micro-entrepreneurs at the foot of the economy. </li></ul><ul><li>Workers in casual sector are predominantly young and single men and women, while workers in regular sector are older and married. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Plight of the Poor <ul><li>Segmentation begins in the rural areas where the asset-less poor in the margin of economy migrate to the cities. </li></ul><ul><li>Dual economy thrives on discrimination based on gender relations, caste, religion, mother tongue, parent’s education, family occupation, migration status and age. </li></ul><ul><li>1. Income differs widely between these segments. 2. Mobility between them is limited </li></ul>
  12. 12. Globalisation has enhanced patriarchal control over women’s sexuality, fertility and labour by superimposing commercial values on the conventional values throughout the world.
  13. 13. <ul><li>Rapid pace of globalisation has brought massive uncertainties in women’s lives. Multi-faced tragedies due to </li></ul><ul><li>marketisation of poor economies and commercialisation of human relations, </li></ul><ul><li>commodification of women’s bodies especially in sexual trafficking, </li></ul><ul><li>advertisements and beauty-contests promoted by the Trans-national corporations (TNCs) and Multi-national Corporations (MNCs), </li></ul><ul><li>starvation deaths in the rural areas, </li></ul><ul><li>havoc played by onslaught of new reproductive technologies, of both pro and anti-natalist varieties, racist population control policies, sex selective abortions of female foetuses, </li></ul><ul><li>violating dignity and bodily integrity of women, armed conflicts, </li></ul><ul><li>increasing economic disparity, the feminisation of poverty, </li></ul><ul><li>disasters in the name of mega development projects resulting into massive displacement of peoples, stressful life leading to increasing violence against women, - the pandemic of HIV and AIDS, </li></ul><ul><li>persistent racism, casteism, sexism, chauvinism and extremism </li></ul>
  14. 14. WSF, JSF, Right to Food, MDGs <ul><li>World Social Forum and Regional Social Fora have provided democratic platforms for reflections on a just, sustainable & caring Global Economy. </li></ul><ul><li>People’s Health Assembly </li></ul><ul><li>These deliberations have convinced us that Another World is Possible and globalisation also bears the promise and possibilities of furthering people’s rights and well-being. </li></ul><ul><li>Millennium Development goal </li></ul>
  15. 15. Arjun Sengupta Committee’s Report <ul><li>The recent Arjun Sengupta Committee report is a stark reminder of the huge size and poor conditions in this sector. </li></ul><ul><li>A subsequent draft Bill to provide security to workers, which bypasses regulatory measures and budgetary provisions, has generated intense debate </li></ul>
  16. 17. <ul><ul><li>Recommendations for Employment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Policy for Employment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proper Implementation of Laws, Schemes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Law Reform (Maternity Benefit Act, Family Leave,Sexual Harassment at Workplace) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Legal Protection for Informal Sector- Umbrella Legislation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Occupational Health & Safety </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Capacity Building and Training </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social Audits of laws, rights </li></ul></ul>
  17. 18. <ul><li>Employment Guarantee Scheme and Maternity Benefits </li></ul><ul><li>The Employment Guarantee Scheme needs to be expanded and improved for urban workers. The focus of such employment schemes can be on building infrastructure, slum development and housing. </li></ul><ul><li>The National Renewal Fund should be extended to cover the unorganized sector and a substantial part should go into the retraining of workers. </li></ul><ul><li>Maternity Benefit for ALL working Mothers irrespective of the number of employees. Creches should be provided for children of all workers and not merely women workers irrespective of the number of employees. There could be a common fund for each industry. </li></ul><ul><li>Social Audit of Workers rights </li></ul>
  18. 19. <ul><li>Social Audit of Budgets </li></ul><ul><li>The Budget is an important tool in the hands of state for affirmative action for improvement of gender relations through reduction of gender gap in the development process. It can help to reduce economic inequalities, between men and women as well as between the rich and the poor. </li></ul><ul><li>Pro-poor budgeting, bottom-up budgeting, child budgeting </li></ul><ul><li>Green budgeting, local and global implications of pro-poor and pro-women budgeting </li></ul><ul><li>Alternative macro scenarios emerging out of alternative budgets and inter-linkages between gender-sensitive budgeting and women’s empowerment. </li></ul><ul><li>SC & Tribal Component plan must be judiciously executed. </li></ul><ul><li>Women’s Component Plan to assure at least 30% of funds/benefits from all development sectors flow to women. </li></ul><ul><li>Capacity building workshops for women in governance </li></ul>
  19. 20. A AAlternatives to Economic Globalisation (G)   There have been two responses to G from the social movements: HHumanise G by building in gender awareness. Think and act globally as well as locally. Promote multilateral trade and diplomatic relations to establish distributive justice and world peace. Revitalising economy through South-south Networking BBuild local alternatives and quit WTO. E.g. Social movements rooted only in the local soil.
  20. 21. Important issues for Global and local level a. Strengthening of Food Security and Right to Food Top down and bottom up initiatives to stop malnutrition and starvation deaths created by stabilisation programmes resulting into withdrawal of state from food security commitments. b. Public Health issues must be highlighted thro’ a national network, People’s Health Assembly. The Nation States should follow the UN mandate of 5 % of the GDP for budgetary allocation on the public health.
  21. 22. c. Housing, land, Rehabilitation & Relocation d. Environmental Issues : Natural resources, being humankind’s common heritage, must be preserved for the use of actual and future generation with the perspective that each human being has an access to water, air, energy, etc. according to her or his needs. e. Commercialisation and privatisation of these resources must be stopped. Biological diversity (flora, fauna, forests, ecosystems) must be preserved and indigenous women’s collective wisdom must be recognised, respected and valued.
  22. 23. <ul><li>Decision Making for the Global Governance : </li></ul><ul><li>We will have to change the direction of globalisation that has rendered the toiling masses faceless and devoid of dignity. </li></ul><ul><li>Decision-makers across the globe must strive collectively and see to it that resources and fruits of development and economic prosperity are distributed justly among countries, within countries and among all human beings thereby eliminating poverty. </li></ul><ul><li>This will ensure everyone access to food and nutrition, shelter, health services, safe transportation, right to information, education, justice, culturally rich leisure-time activities. </li></ul><ul><li>To deal with this crucial task force, we will have to evolve high levels of participatory democracy in governance so that we can improve lives and freedoms of peoples in all parts of the globe. </li></ul>
  23. 24. Think & Act , Locally & Globally. <ul><li>Thank you </li></ul>