Centre for Global Political Economy

Labour and the Global Political Economy

A one day workshop
University of Sussex
Wednesday May 16th 2007

This workshop contributed to the endeavour of bringing labour more centrally into the study of Global Political Economy. It examined the changing relationships between workers, both organised and unorganised, and states, transnational capital and international institutions, and considered how changing structures of work are reshaping global order. The key questions addressed were: In what ways does global neo-liberal restructuring impinge upon workers' livelihoods and social solidarity, and how do these processes in turn create or limit new forms of organisation and collective agency? What effect is uneven development having on the agency of labour in different regional and national contexts? And how can the study of labour contribute to the theorisation of globalisation and world order?


10.00-12.00 Panel 1 - Rethinking Labour and IPE

  • Robert O'Brien (McMaster) - The Significance of Labour for Mainstream Perspectives.
  • Matt Davies (Newcastle) - International Relations and the Problem of Work: Reflections on Robert Cox's Production, Power and World Order and Jeffrey Harrod's Power, Production, and the Unproducted Worker.

13.00 - 15.00: Panel 2 - Developments in Global Unionism

  • Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick (Birbeck) - The Creation of the ITUC and the Challenges ahead for International Trade Unionism.
  • Peter Waterman (Hague) - When an Old Social Movement Meets New Social Movement: Labour at the World Social Forum

15.30 - 17.30: Panel 3 - New Understandings of International Labour Activism

  • Ben Rogaly (Sussex) - Paper on migrant agricultural workers in India and the UK, and discourse on forced labour.
  • Geert de Neve (Sussex) - Who is Concerned about Labour in the South Indian Garment Industry? Reflections on Local and International Labour Activism.