‘Labour chains’: Analysing the role of Labour Contractors in Global Production Networks

Abstract

Third party labour contractors are increasingly prevalent in global production networks (GPNs), and can provide a channel for new forms of unfree labour. Review of case study evidence from South African and UK horticulture suggests this often emerges off-site through labour intermediaries. Analytical approaches to labour in GPNs and value chains are examined. The article argues that labour contracting is driven by the commercial dynamics of global outsourcing. A ‘cascade system’ allows unscrupulous intermediaries to coerce vulnerable workers. We examine strategies of civil society alliances, and regulatory reform, and argue for extending liability of all commercial actors across global boundaries.

Citation

Barrientos, S. ‘Labour chains’: Analysing the role of Labour Contractors in Global Production Networks. Journal of Development Studies (2013) 14 pp. [DOI: 10.1080/00220388.2013.780040]

‘Labour chains’: Analysing the role of Labour Contractors in Global Production Networks

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