Economic Security for the Working Poor? Trade-Linked Labor Standards, Workers' Rights, and the Politics of Representation of Bangladesh's Garment Workers

Hossain, Jakir (2012) Economic Security for the Working Poor? Trade-Linked Labor Standards, Workers' Rights, and the Politics of Representation of Bangladesh's Garment Workers. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF (SIS Doctoral Dissertation_Jakir Hossain) - Doctoral Thesis


Labor standards have been introduced in both developed and developing countries with the presumption that there is synergy at work in the relationship of labor standards and workers’ rights. Standards translate into workers’ rights, and enhance workers’ economic security. The question I address in this dissertation is whether the inherent link in the nexus makes the transformation towards workers’ economic security possible, and what factors do shape standards to transform into rights, and in turn, influence economic security. Focusing on the forms of labor standards, I argue that the choice of instruments and the transformation process determine whether the link automatically creates synergy, or produces tensions /conflicts. The dissertation shows that synergistic or conflicting relationship depends upon the internal dynamics of the institutional mechanisms, and myriad of interest groups through which workers’ interests are (mis)represented. Taking labor standards installation in Bangladesh and the concomitant transformation mechanisms for the increasingly globalized garment sector workers as a case in point, I claim that the issue of workers’ economic security has been lost in the whirlpool of standards, rights, and representation. This study shows that labor standards in Bangladesh installed through three routes— rights legislation, rights conditionality, and corporate codes—have hardly translated into workers’ rights, and these provisions largely have failed to promote the workers’ economic security. The failure to transform labor standards into workers’ rights and workers’ economic security is best explained by the lack of adequate and effective representation of the working poor by the various interest groups. I argue that the inability of the institutional mechanisms to address the needs of the working poor is due to acts of omission and/or commission by both the state and non-state actors. The ‘standards-rights-economic security’ nexus can only work for an equitable outcome for workers if there are adequate and effective forms of workers’ representation in the institutional mechanisms. The politics of representation drives the outcome of the nexus.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:International Studies
PhD Cycle:XXII
Subjects:Area 12 - Scienze giuridiche > IUS/07 DIRITTO DEL LAVORO
Area 13 - Scienze economiche e statistiche > SECS P/02 POLITICA ECONOMICA
Uncontrolled Keywords:International Labor Standards, Rights and Representation, Decent Work, Labor Law, Bangladesh's Garment Workers, Working Poor
Repository Staff approval on:22 May 2012 11:22

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