Globalization lived locally-a labor geography perspective.

AuthorSodhi, J.S.

Neethi P., New Delhi, Oxford University Press India, 2016

The book deals with globalization and labor with the perspective of labor (particularly female labor) geography approach to examine contemporary forms of labor control, conflict and response under the globalization regime in Kerala. This is attempted to be achieved with the help of four empirical case studies.

The first is a case study of an Apparel Park in which the proprietorship changed, triggered by the demand for wage increase by the workers, from 'local money' to a 'giant' with international business. The workers in this study were made to work for almost seven days a week, paid low wages with absence of overtime time and denial of leave. There was total erosion of legal rights of the workers. The local as well as the multinational management did little to change this picture. The narrative provides the familiar picture of management exploitation in apparel industry. The industry does not allow trade union activity and where one exists, the management's response to the union activity is always clumsy (for the workers).

The second case study is of an electronics firm and the involvement of Church. The Church acted as an intermediary between the firm's top management and the workers as well as played the role of the recruiter and the manager. The Church recruited female workforce to promote flexibility in the labor force. However, the management's consideration was more to avoid unionization. The women worked under the strict supervision of nuns and priests. They had no contact with the firm's management. The Church's management ensured that work went on smoothly without much of a discontent. Some of workers' basic needs (loan for a cycle, marriage fund etc) were taken care of while also inculcating values not only with regard to their role in the family but in the workforce as well. The case study brings out that work norms were very stringent and seven day work schedule was the norm and those who could not follow it because of other roles left the work. The payment was on piece rates and it is not clear from the case study if the relationship between the worker and the firm was 'legal'

The third case study is of a food processing firm (mainly making pickles) which made mandatory the membership of a Kudumbashree, (a women empowerment and poverty eradication program of the Kerala Government) to obtain employment in the firm. The self help groups formed under Kudumbashree...

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