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After Consumer Movement: Toward the new international labour activism in global garment industry

Chang, Dae-Oup and Wong, Monina (2005) 'After Consumer Movement: Toward the new international labour activism in global garment industry.' Labour, Capital and Society, 38 (1&2). pp. 126-155.

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Abstract

This article critically evaluates trade union strategies and the international consumer campaign in the garment industry. It looks at the origin of the trade union inability to deal with the movement of capital that recaptured 'labour' in the global garment industry, by tracing labour's reaction to the movement of capital emerging around protectionism in the 1960s, all the way to the debates around the 2004 Multi-Fibre Arrangement. This is followed by a critical review of the international consumer campaign and the corporate reaction that saw the itroduction of company Codes of Conduct and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that challenged the international solidarity-building undertaken by the trade union movement. We draw on examples from the consumer campaign in the garment industry to argue these new campaigns take an individualistic approach to capitalist social relation and risk creating new divisions of labour, while reinforcing older one. Moreover, they risk driving the labour movement towards increased dependence on transnational capital for protection. The conclusion is that building a new labour solidarity is possible for the labour movement only if it is engaged in organizing from the 'bottom-up', both inside and outside factories, in developing as well as developed countries, rather than taking a top-down approach based on the market power of developed countries or the institutionalized leverage of international trade unions.

Item Type: Articles
Keywords: Labour movement, consumer campaign, Garment Industry
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Development Studies
ISSN: 07061706
Depositing User: Dae-Oup Chang
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2009 10:16
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/6759

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