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‘Labour chains’: analysing the role of labour contractors in global production networks

Stephanie Barrientos

Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series from BWPI, The University of Manchester

Abstract: Third party labour contractors are increasingly prevalent in Global Production Networks (GPNs), and are a potential channel for ‘new forms of slavery’. Our review of case study evidence from South African and UK horticulture suggests unfree labour often emerges off-site through labour intermediaries. We examine analytical approaches to labour in GPNs and value chains. We argue that labour contracting is a logical extension of global outsourcing, helping to offset risk and enhance flexibility. A ‘cascade system’ allows unscrupulous intermediaries to exploit and coerce vulnerable workers. We examine strategies of civil society alliances, and regulatory reform, and argue for extending liability across global boundaries.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr, nep-bec and nep-lab
Date: 2011
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