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

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  • Stephanie Barrientos

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephanie Barrientos, 2011. "‘Labour chains’: analysing the role of labour contractors in global production networks," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series 15311, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
  • Handle: RePEc:bwp:bwppap:15311
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    File URL: http://hummedia.manchester.ac.uk/institutes/gdi/publications/workingpapers/bwpi/bwpi-wp-15311.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Barrientos, Stephanie & Dolan, Catherine & Tallontire, Anne, 2003. "A Gendered Value Chain Approach to Codes of Conduct in African Horticulture," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(9), pages 1511-1526, September.
    2. Andy Cumbers & Corinne Nativel & Paul Routledge, 2008. "Labour agency and union positionalities in global production networks," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(3), pages 369-387, May.
    3. Thomas Reardon & C. Peter Timmer & Christopher B. Barrett & Julio Berdegué, 2003. "The Rise of Supermarkets in Africa, Asia, and Latin America," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1140-1146.
    4. Koettl, Johannes, 2009. "Human trafficking, modern day slavery, and economic exploitation," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 49802, The World Bank.
    5. Stephanie Barrientos & Andrienetta Kritzinger, 2004. "Squaring the circle: global production and the informalization of work in South African fruit exports," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 81-92.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jong-Woon Lee, 2014. "Labour Contracting and Changing Employment Relationships in South Korea," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 32(4), pages 449-473, July.
    2. repec:spr:ijlaec:v:59:y:2016:i:3:d:10.1007_s41027-017-0066-3 is not listed on IDEAS

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