News Update

CSR as the New Age Corporate Practice: Reality, Issues, and its Impact on Workers in the Field

Subir Rana


Book Review

Asia Monitor Resource Centre (ed) (2012). The Reality of Corporate Social Responsibility: Case Studies on the Impact of CSR on Workers in China, South Korea, India and Indonesia. Hong Kong: Asia Monitor Resource Centre. ISBN: 978 962 7145 40 0


As we marched towards the age of global assemblages carrying the high mast of capitalism and hyper-nationalism, global governance and transnationalism, we ushered in a new global economic architecture that brought about cataclysmic transformations in the conduct of business, its commercial ethics, and institutional arrangements. New business principles have today become signifiers of new age corporate practice, and we have witnessed a ‘corporate turn’ in the commercial world. One such modern business code and ‘strategy’ that defines the contours of contemporary trade and has turned business houses into ‘second tier state’ is Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR.

The concept of CSR is not new. In ancient India, guilds or shrenis formed part of a philanthropic tradition that bound together social and economic interests of groups and communities. Gandhi’s notion of ‘trusteeship’ also has echoes of the philosophy behind CSR. However, CSR today is a different species. A child of neoliberalism, it upholds the ethos of market ideology, believes in the deterritorialization of business practices, extracts surplus labour and surplus value, and the ‘invisible hand’ that would paper over economic cracks and imbalances.

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Indonesian Labour Movement in Historical Perspective: A View from Below

Iqra Anugrah


Book Review

Christiansen, Samantha and Zachary A. Scarlett (eds) (2013), The Third World in the Global 1960s, New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books, 223 pages

Ingleson, John (2014), Workers, Unions and Politics: Indonesia in the 1920s and 1930s, Leiden, Boston: Brill, 352 pages

Suryomenggolo, Jafar (2013), Organising under the Revolution: Unions and the State in Java, 1945-1948, Singapore, Kyoto: NUS Press and Kyoto University Press, 215 pages



The history of labour movement in a Western context is different from that in a non-Western one. If such is the case, insights into the former, or which there is an abundance of studies, cannot be said to unilaterally apply to the latter, on which, on the contrary, there is a dearth of research. The three books under review here – Ingleson’s Workers, Unions and Politics; Suryomenggolo’s Organising under the Revolution on the history of Indonesian labour movement from the 1920s to 1940s; and Christiansen and Scarlett’s edited volume on new social movements in the third world in the 1960s –provide a much-needed addition to and enrich the field of labour history in the Global South with their emphasis on history from below. While the first two works seek to unravel the history of Indonesian workers as experienced by the workers themselves, the edited volume complements them by highlighting the stories of emerging social movements in post-colonial, developing countries, including Indonesia. By doing so, these works make an important contribution to the study of labour history in Asia.

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The Informality and Precarious Work in Production Chain Capitalism: A Case Study of Automobile Industry in India

Surendra Pratap and Annavajhula J.C. Bose



In production chain capitalism, informality and precarious work are systematically created in and built into the value chains to reduce the cost of production and maximize profits. Using a case study on the automobile industry in India, this paper shows that fluctuations in workforce generally occur more at the lower ends of the value chain, artificially created by buyers at the higher end of the value chains as part of a strategy to minimise the bargaining power of suppliers and put downward pressure on the prices of parts. Therefore, engaging contract workers is part of a bigger strategy of profit maximization that exploits cheap labour not to meet the needs of flexibility. The value chain dynamic itself also creates informality of small enterprises at the lower ends of the value chain, which blocks any upward mobility of these enterprises. Thus, the presence of effective trade union movement at the firm level, in the case of larger firms, and at the industry level, in the case of small enterprises, emerge as the most important factors that can potentially minimise the pains of informality and precarious work.

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The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: Labour and Environmental Concerns

Sanjiv Pandita



The recent establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is widely seen as a major shift in the regional and global economic leadership, with overwhelming support not only from Asian economies but also from major European countries. As an institution that aims to redefine the global economic order, the AIIB poses a significant challenge to the established US, Europe and Japan-led multilateral institutions. It is widely seen as part of China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ policy aimed at building infrastructure along the ‘silk road’ under the leadership of Chinese economic might. This paper argues, though, that while traditional economic powers feel challenged by the AIIB, the new bank is, in actuality, based on similar ‘neo- liberal’ paradigms followed by other multilateral financial institutions like the World Bank, IMF, or the ADB, which will ultimately lead to the further marginalisation and dispossession of Asian communities. This paper attempts to highlight the labour and environmental concerns that the AIIB brings with it, and argues that the new institution does not posit any change or improvement in the conditions of working people in the region. It analyses what the AIIB entails for workers and communities in Asia, and its possible impacts on the environment. It also highlights some of the initial responses and concerns from the civil society against this financial body.

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From Global Factory to Continent of Labour: Labour and Development in Asia

Dae-oup Chang



Whereas the rise of Asia as the global factory attracts much attention from policy makers and academics, what is often neglected is the ‘labour side’ of the story. What this contemporary transformation means to the ordinary Asian population is that Asia has become a continent of labour where hundreds of millions of workers are making their living at different moments of the globalising circuit of capital. This article examines the historical trajectory of capitalist development and labour in contemporary Asia and, in doing so, tries to identify the ways in which struggles of Asia’s labouring population develop. It demonstrates that the contemporary development of this global factory creates no conditions on the basis of which a ‘traditional industrial working class’ can emerge while making it impossible for people to survive without relating to capitalist labour one way or another. Asian workers’ struggles therefore often do not follow the ‘usual’ model of working class mobilisation. Rather they surface as social movements of the working poor in diverse forms across rural communities, urban centres, workplaces, and homes, defying the trinity formula of the labour movement between the industrial working class, trade unions, and workers political parties.

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A new Shenzhen? Poor Pakistan fishing town’s horror at Chinese plans

Mega-port will bring five-star hotels and Chinese access to Arabian Sea, as residents in conflict-torn province contend with lack of water and food

Gwadar is poor. When a house was recently burgled in the fishing settlement on Pakistan’s desert coast, the only items stolen were cans of fresh water – a staple that has soared in value since reservoirs dried up. It lies in Balochistan, a province in the grip of a long-running separatist insurgency and Pakistan’s most neglected.

Yet local officials dream of a future where Gwadar becomes a second Shenzhen, the Chinese trade hub bordering Hong Kong. Visitors are told that with Chinese investment the small settlement will become a major node of world commerce boasting car factories, Pakistan’s biggest airport and a string of five-star resort hotels along Gwadar’s sparkling seafront.

But residents are aghast, and not just because the fishing community, long settled on the neck of the peninsula, will be moved to new harbours up to 40km away.

“This is all being done for China, not the people,” said Elahi Bakhsh, a fisherman bewildered by the plans to turn Gwadar into China’s deepwater access point to the Arabian Sea.

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Two killed as PIA workers clash with LEAs at Karachi airport

Two people were killed and at least three others injured on Tuesday after law enforcement personnel allegedly opened fire at employees of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) protesting near the Jinnah International airport in Karachi against privatization of the national flag carrier.

Five people, including the cameraman of a local TV channel and four PIA workers, were earlier reported to have been injured in the clash between protesting PIA workers and law enforcement personnel.

But officials at a private hospital later confirmed that one injured person brought to the hospital died during treatment, while another body was brought for autopsy. One of the deceased was identified as Anayat Raza.

The incident came a day after the prime minister enforced the Essential Services Maintenance Act 1952 for six months in an effort to block the impending strike.

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Awami Workers Party condemns murder of PIA workers in Karachi, Pakistan

Press Release:

Awami Workers Party Pakistan condemns murder of PIA workers in Karachi

The Awami Workers Party strongly condemns state violence against workers of the Pakistan International Airlines on Tuesday in which at least two workers in Karachi were killed and scores were tear-gassed, beaten up and injured. The AWP also condemns the imposition of the barbaric Essential Services Maintenance Act to stamp out the workers’ right to protest for their rights. The party has called for a protest in solidarity with PIA workers at Charing Cross at 3pm on February 3.

It is necessary to point out that all regimes have attempted to privatise PIA and exploit it for their own political and economic interests.The reasons given to us for the privatisation of the national carrier – incompetence, wasteful expenditure, declining service standards, gross mismanagement – are a result of usurious myopic policies of successive regimes.

Yet, all research into the privatization of public assets since the 90s demonstrates how the process has been marred by corruption, cronyism, asset-stripping, as well as aggravating social problems such as unemployment. In bizarre irony, the political elite of the country, which has used public institutions for financial gains and petty electoral considerations, have been handed over the responsibility of overseeing the “transparent handing over” of Pakistan’s national assets. Without an accountability process of the highly dubious previous privatization projects, once again, it is the ordinary workers and ordinary citizens who will face the brunt of the elite’s economic mismanagement.

More importantly, if crucial policy decisions affecting millions of citizens are not presented in front of the public for a thorough debate,and instead are decided by technocrats from the IMF, it will raise serious questions on the efficacy of a parliament allegedly representing the “will of the people”.

The government’s attempts to bundle-off and privatise segments of the Water and Power Development Authority have only served to highlight the failure of a neoliberal capitalist system.

The argument that privatisation will make ‘lumbering’ state-owned enterprises more efficient has fallen on its own merit with the case of power supply companies. Yet the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government is going ahead with an aggressive gamble in privatising the PIA.

The brunt of this failed experiment being repeated over and over again falls on the workers. Now with the right to strike and protest taken away, the space to even demonstrate dissent against these myopic policies is being stamped out.

The AWP demands that the government revoke the draconian Essential Services Maintenance Act and holds the government and rangers accountable for the usage of force against the workers.

The AWP demands an immediate end to failed austerity and privatisation policies and expresses complete solidarity with the striking workers who are demanding nothing but a life of dignity.

Awami Workers Party

Ph: 0300 8433173

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Workers’ Struggle amid Capital Mobility (A Short Training Module for Workers)

This education module on capital mobility explains the capitalist crisis, and assesses the impact of capital mobility on workers and trade unions. The module also provides stories of workers in the global supply chains and their struggles.

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Free Labour Activists in China Now

On Dec 21st, 2015, Hong Kong labour groups held a protest in front of Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government, Hong Kong SAR, in support the detained Chinese labour activists.

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