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

  • Stephanie Barrientos
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    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.

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    File URL: http://www.bwpi.manchester.ac.uk/medialibrary/publications/working_papers/bwpi-wp-15311.pdf
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    Paper provided by BWPI, The University of Manchester in its series Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series with number 15311.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:bwp:bwppap:15311
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    Web page: http://www.bwpi.manchester.ac.uk/

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    1. Koettl, Johannes, 2009. "Human trafficking, modern day slavery, and economic exploitation," Social Protection Discussion Papers 49802, The World Bank.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
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