Employers’ ongoing search to lower their wage bill in an increasingly competitive and globalised economy has resulted in the emergence of new forms of work organisation aimed mostly at increasing workforce flexibility and mobility, in both North and South. Downsizing, outsourcing, the greater use of part-time and contract workers, and even forms of indentured labour have resulted in increasingly precarious work. While situations vary according to skill levels, we are far from the ideal of free labour in which workers are able to negotiate decent work, acquire rights and improve working conditions.
Certain key elements have expanded precarious work and created new forms of labour organisation. New technologies have introduced platform and gig economies. As deregulation has been imposed in several countries of the South, the informal or unregulated sector now dominates the economy, resulting in millions engaged in various forms of precarious and even dangerous employment, as they fall outside of labour laws. The need to migrate internationally for work has also increased as war and violence, the lack of jobs and low wages push people into labour intensive work camps, temporary foreign worker programmes or domestic labour abroad. They face the additional problems of working in a context of limited rights and can fall victim to traffickers or usurious contracts.
The result is growing poverty and inequality and the search by workers, their unions and even nation states for alternatives as older mechanisms may no longer be adequate to deal with new forms of labour practices. This special issue of Labour, Capital and Society / Travail, capital et société seeks to explore the variety of new forms of work arrangements, in countries both in the North and South, as a way of underlining similarities and differences. Articles that address this issue broadly are welcome as are ones that treat more narrow aspects of specific forms of work arrangements. This could include ones working in temporary migrant worker schemes; work in free trade zones; or new forms of indentured labour which have sometimes been labelled as new forms of slave labour, including child workers; circular migration especially of those who rotate between subsistence production and the cash economy; the wide variety of contract and part-time labour arrangements; as well as the labour forms found in the informal sector or workers in the formal sector, working informally. Papers are also sought on attempts by unions, non-governmental organisations and governments to overcome these limitations and provide alternatives.
Deadline: Please send article proposals and abstracts to Suzanne Dansereau, Editor at [email protected] by September 30, 2018. Articles due January 15, 2019. Publication expected by May 2019.