The global division of labour and the division in global labour

Kerswell, Timothy James (2011) The global division of labour and the division in global labour. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Since the 1980s the locus of manufacturing and some services have moved to countries of the Global South. Liberalization of trade and investment has added two billion people to world labour supply and brought workers everywhere into intense competition with each other. Under orthodox neoliberal and neoclassical approaches free trade and open investment should benefit all countries and lead to convergence. However considerable differences in wages and working hours exist between workers of the Global North and those of the Global South. The organising question for the thesis is why workers in different countries but the same industries get different wages. Empirical evidence reviewed in the thesis shows that productivity does not explain these wage differences and that workers in some parts of the South are more productive than workers in the North. Part of the thesis examines the usefulness of explanations drawn from Marxist, institutionalist and global commodity chain approaches. There is a long established argument in Marxist and neo-Marxist writings that differences between North and South result from imperialism and the exercise of power. This is the starting point to review ways of understanding divisions between workers as the outcome of a global class structure. In turn, a fault line is postulated between productive and unproductive labour that largely replicates the division between the Global North and the Global South. Workers and their organizations need shared actions if they are to resist global competition and wage disparities. Solidarity has been the clarion of progressive movements from the Internationals of the early C19th through to the current Global Unions and International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICTU). The thesis examines how nationalism and particular interests have undermined solidarity and reviews the major implications for current efforts to establish and advance a global labour position.

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ID Code: 46838
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Guille, Howard & Burton, Judith A.
Keywords: labour, political economy, global south, third world, globalization, Marxism, unequal exchange, global commodity chains
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 03 Nov 2011 05:17
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2011 05:17

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