Labour in Globalising Asian Corporations: A Portrait of Struggle

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Dae-Oup Chang

For the last two decades, there have been significant developments in the way in which labour is organised in Asia and therefore the basis of labour movement in Asia. In industrialised economies, such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan, ‘tertiary’ labour continually expands, representing growth of the service sector particularly with increasing women’s participation. Formerly non-profit-making activities or so-called unproductive labour,…. is waged while industries considered as ‘public’ are increasingly privatised. The distinction between productive labour,…. and un(re)productive labour… has been dismantled due to the neatly woven relations between them.

On the other hand, massive populations in developing countries, formerly mainly involved in self-subsistence activities, have become wage labourers.

Consequently, the traditional union movement that was based on a particular historical development of labour within national economic development and institutionalised balance of power between labour and capital, has been facing increasing difficulties….

At the heart of these new trends of the way in which labour is socially organised in Asia, lies the increasing mobility of transnational corporations…

The ATNC Monitoring Network has been addressing this issue of capital mobility and nformalising labour for the last three years in a continuous attempt to grasp the basis of a new labour movement… Whereas the ATNC Network’s first outlook published in 2005 showed a general picture of capital movement by looking into FDI trends and different forms of the reaction of labour, this new volume examines the way in which ‘work’ is recomposed by mobile capital in Asia, tracing the interaction between TNCs and local labour. We do so here by presenting three stories of interactions between labour and capital. Drawing on the examples of the evolution of emerging multinational giant Samsung Electronics, the world’s most profitable automaker Toyota, and the survival strategies of the Taiwanese national brand Tatung, this book shows how the world of labour and living for the workers in TNCs has changed through their involvement in the multinational operation and expansion of capital in Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, India and China. We hope that this volume contributes to an understanding of the particular labour problems in Asian developing countries as moments of a bigger global transformation of social relations, in which labour becomes informal and purely capitalist in the face of growing mobility of capital in and beyond Asia. We also hope that this book can further discussions about new ways of organising along the subcontract chains of TNCs, which we believe workers are already developing in many countries

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