Globalization and the Casual Labor Problem: History and Prospects
Dave Broad analyzes the structural transformation of the world labor market, including the growing prominence of part-time or temporary work, cost cutting through massive layoffs, subcontracting in the informal economy, and outsourcing from the developed centers to the Third World. Broad argues that full-time work does not always advance the accumulation interests of the owners of capital. Since most casualized work is non-union, low-wage work, casual workers, including women, form a reservoir of labor that corporations can use to reduce workers’ household earnings and the clout of workers’ organizations. To regain control over labor power, capital has undertaken a number of initiatives, including globalization of production, technological changes, degradation of labor, (re)casualization of labor, feminization of labor, informalization of production, and promotion of neoliberal state policies designed to weaken the labor movement. According to the author, an antidote to this trend for labor would be to increase social movement unionism, through which labor combines with other social movements, locally, nationally, and globally, in a general struggle for social justice. This struggle brings workers together with feminists, environmentalists, peace activists, indigenous people, and others to achieve a more rational and humane world order. In the near term, though, a “share economy,” including profit sharing, gain sharing, performance bargaining, leaner job ladders, retraining, and redeployment, could be a more humane way to increase human resource flexibility. Broad notes that although it is easy to target capitalism as the problem and to say what socialism is opposed to, it is more difficult to articulate a socialist alternative.
economy, global; international economics; employment, part-time; employment; capitalism; capital accumulation; labor market; marxian economics; world systems analysis; labor movement
Citation: Social Justice Vol. 22, No. 3 (1995): 67-91