Labour Rights in Globalizing World and India

  • D. Narasimha Reddy


The basic proposition of the chapter is that to appreciate better the impact of the present phase of globalization on labour rights in India, it is necessary to locate the analysis in the larger context of the labour rights regime as it evolved at the international level. The evolution of labour rights is linked to certain historic epochs in capitalist globalization. The earlier phases of development of capitalism (right from the mid-nineteenth century up to the end of the so-called Golden Age by late 1970s) witnessed a clear recognition and progressive consolidation towards constitutionalization of labour rights by strengthening the capacity of the ILO. The present phase of globalization not only witnessed radical reorganization of industry from the Fordist mass production to dismantling and geographically distributing the units of production through global production networks, but also softening of the labour rights regime at the international level by the 1998 Declaration of the ILO which is seen as moving towards voluntarism. In the light of these developments the chapter analyses the nature of integration of the Indian economy into the global economy, its impact on the quality of employment, the change by way of shift in the attitude of all the wings of the state and the dilution of regulatory machinery towards labour rights. The chapter traces several disturbing trends in the industrial relations system like weakened countervailing forces like unions, the growing pressure of capital for more and more flexibility in labour regulatory system, the eagerness of the states to appease capital, weakening of labour rights regime and so on. Given the voluntarism at the international level, the solution cannot but be mobilization of labour for assertion of their rights. The translation of ‘Decent Work’ and ‘Social Protection Floor’ through mobilization of labour cutting across formal-informal barrier holds some glimpses of hope.


Labour rights Core labour standards Labour regulation Neoliberal reform Labour market institutions Present phase of globalization Global production networks Informalization Labour market flexibility 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Narasimha Reddy
    • 1
  1. 1.Professor and Head, Department of Economics (Rtd)University of HyderabadHyderabadIndia

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