‘Workers’ rights in the era of neoliberalism- the practice of private labour regulation in the garment factories in Delhi (NCR)’ by Archana Prasad

Archana Prasad (Department of Sociology, Kamala Nehru College, Delhi University) presented her research entitled ‘Workers’ rights in the era of neoliberalism- the practice of private labour regulation in the garment factories in Delhi (NCR)’ at the Sociological Research Colloquium.

When: Friday, 20th April 2018 at 3:00 p.m.

Where: Seminar Room (First Floor), Department of Sociology, University of Delhi 


The structure of the neoliberal economy has leased out a new terrain of labour struggle in India evident from the number of violent clash between workers and employers in the recent decade. These clashes besides narrating the experience of exploitation and deprivation also tell the story of weakening of workers’ right with onset of globalization. The complete demise of collective bargaining and freedom of association has been due to the phenomenal growth of private regulation of labour. Different forms of private, voluntary regulation- codes of conduct, auditing, monitoring and certification have emerged as part of corporate social responsibility. The objective of these initiatives has been to make international labour standards integral to global production network. The efficacy of labour standards in protecting workers’ rights has been the most contentious debates surrounding globalization. Labour standards have been advocated by international institutions on the assumption that it would transform into rights. But does standards necessarily transform into rights? Rather than protecting the workers from capitalist exploitation, the process has further marginalized and fragmented workers, especially in the developing countries. One particular form of private regulation, Social Compliance Audit (henceforth referred as SCA) has been examined to bring out the farce reality of the process where profit remains the main motive at the cost of workers’ rights. By doing a macro-micro level analysis, the paper examines the contradiction between capital and labour leading to the complete demise of workers’ rights in India. Empirical evidences collected from garment factories located Delhi-NCR, suggests that private labour regulation has led to upgrading labour standards but further suppressed workers’ right as it is perceived as lessening control and supervision.

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