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Manufacturing social justice and the politics of labour in and out the global garment shopfloor 
Alessandra Mezzadri (SOAS University of London)
Jean Jenkins (Cardiff University)
Nikolaus Hammer (University of Leicester)
Naomi Hossain (SOAS University of London)
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Paper panel
Embedding justice in development
S113, first floor Senate Building
Thursday 27 June, -, -, Friday 28 June, -, -
Time zone: Europe/London

Short Abstract:

Focusing on South Asian garment workers, but welcoming analyses from elsewhere, the panel explores how social justice claims are manufactured on global garment shopfloors via new labour-rights initiatives or workers' grievances; and it analyses links between shopfloor-politics and workers' life.

Long Abstract:

The COVID-19 pandemic once again exposed the vulnerability and exposure to reproductive crises of the garment workforce worldwide (Carswell and De Neve, 2022; Hammer, 2023; Ruwanpura, 2023). It renewed calls for social justice initiatives in the industry (Tejani and Fukuda-Parr, 2021), which multiplied since the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh. Today, the focus of these initiatives includes infrastructural safety, living-wages, fairer sourcing strategies, or international social protection (Prentice and Sumon, 2023). Among initiatives, the Accord, the first Enforceable Brand-Agreement (EBA) on health & safety, is the most discussed (Hossein, 2019). Yet new EBAs, like India’s Dindigul Agreement, are proposing more horizontal models for social justice, centring workers’ campaigns. In fact, evidence suggests that garment workers articulate their own demands for social justice; via union’s initiatives; by voicing their grievances on the shopfloor, (Jenkins et al, 2023) or filing industrial disputes with labour courts (Mezzadri and Sehgal, 2023). These trends show that even in highly labour-intensive sectors workers can increasingly voice their concerns, albeit with various outcomes.

Focusing especially on South Asian labour, but welcoming contributions from elsewhere, this panel explores how social justice claims are articulated on the global garment shopfloor, with emphasis on

• Evolving global labour justice & transnational social protection claims/initiatives.

• Shopfloor grievances and their outcomes.

• Industrial disputes and their social life across formal and informal domains.

• Workers-centred social justice initiatives, including new/renewed global initiatives.

• Workers’ self-representation of their own working and living conditions.

• The impact of shopfloor politics on livelihoods/social reproduction.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 27 June, 2024, -
Session 2 Thursday 27 June, 2024, -
Session 3 Friday 28 June, 2024, -
Session 4 Friday 28 June, 2024, -