Labour agency and union positionalities in global production networks

Cumbers, A., Nativel, C. and Routledge, P. (2008) Labour agency and union positionalities in global production networks. Journal of Economic Geography, 8(3), pp. 369-387. (doi: 10.1093/jeg/lbn008)

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The development of a global production networks (GPN) perspective in economic geography has brought valuable insights into the social and political relations between regional, state and corporate actors in understanding processes of value capture in the production of commodities. However, to date, little has been said about labour as an active constituent of the global economy, rather than the passive victim of restructuring processes. In this article, we seek to rectify this situation by, first, theorizing the agency of labour in GPNs and the continuing role of class struggle in shaping the global economy, and second, exploring the positionality of unions within this framework. Through a case study of ICEM (the International Chemical, Energy, Mining and General Workers Federation), we show how union strategies evolve through contested socio–spatial relations both within unions themselves and with other social actors. Promoting transnational labour rights and improved employment conditions at the global scale is an aspiration of most union actors, but this is inevitably compromised by different subject positions in relation to broader processes of capital accumulation.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Routledge, Dr Paul and Cumbers, Professor Andrew
Authors: Cumbers, A., Nativel, C., and Routledge, P.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Journal of Economic Geography
ISSN (Online):1468-2710

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