GLU Publications

GLU Working Papers

No. 44 | October 2016

The integration of Vietnam in the global economy and its effects for Vietnamese economic development

by Hansjörg Herr, Erwin Schweisshelm and Truong-Minh Vu

When Vietnam started the Đổi Mới (renovation) in the mid-1980s it was a backward agricultural country. Liberalising markets, allowing the establishment of private firms, integrating in the world economy and high FDI inflows stimulated growth and productivity development. However, this first face of development seems to be exploited and Vietnam is in danger to fall in a period of low growth, low productivity increases and no convergence with more developed countries. Vietnam is at the lowest end of global value chains in industrial productions and at the same time depends on the export of natural resources. Market mechanisms are reproducing this type of underdevelopment.  

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No. 43 | October 2016

Trade regulations and global production networks : what is the current impact and what would help to improve working conditions throughout the supply chains?

by Christoph Scherrer and Stefan Beck

This study provides an overview of some, not all initiatives to improve working conditions throughout global production networks. On the basis of secondary sources it assesses the contribution of the instruments favored by these initiatives. It starts with an economic justification of international workers’ rights. 

The debate about international workers’ rights revolves primarily around enforcing standards in developing countries. Opponents of internationally enforced workers’ rights see them as an obstacle to closing the industrial gap. They argue that better living and working conditions cannot be legislated but would be the natural outcome of industrialization.

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No. 42 | July 2016

From ‘precarious informal employment’ to ‘protected employment’: the ‘positive transitioning effect’ of trade unions

by Melisa R. Serrano and Edlira Xhafa

This paper aims at contributing to the discussions on the challenge of transitioning from precarious informal employment to more protected employment. This paper looks into a rather under-researched area—the role of trade unions in facilitating this process of ‘transitioning’ as well as in containing the spread of this type of employment. We refer to this process, along with its outcomes, as the 'positive transitioning effect' of trade unions. Through 10 case studies from nine countries (Brazil, India, Israel, Nepal, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Korea, the UK, and Zambia), the paper analyses several factors, such as the legal framework (i.e., labour laws and regulations), economic and social protection measures beyond the labour law, union's organisation structures and processes, and union strategies and measures, that influence the success of various ‘transitioning’ initiatives undertaken either solely by trade unions or in collaboration with other organisations.  

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No. 40 | February 2016

It ain’t over ‘til it’s over: The right to strike and the mandate of the ILO committee of experts revisited

by Claudia Hofmann and Norbert Schuster

For many years now, the question of whether the standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the provisions of Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize (1948) in particular, implied the existence of a right to strike was the subject of a controversy among the tripartite constituents. The debate escalated in 2012, when no agreement was reached at the International Labour Conference of the ILO regarding the adoption and discussion of a list of 25 Member States that stood accused of serious breaches of ILO Conventions. Since then, this issue had continued to hamper the process of supervising the application of ILO Conventions.  

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No. 39 | February 2016

Labour Market Developments in Germany: Tales of Decency and Stability

by Bea Ruoff

Labour market developments in Germany can be separated into two major shocks: German reunification in the early 1990s, and the Hartz reforms in the early 2000s. In this paper it is argued that these two shocks divide the German wage bargaining system into the old labour market system, which is characterised by a high degree of coordination through pattern bargaining, and the new dual labour market system, where pattern bargaining exists to some extent but is characterized by a marked increase in precarious work. The consequences of these developments for the alleged “stable” and “decent” German labour market are outlined and policy proposals by the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB) to combat unnoticed (or condoned) dualism and its repercussions are discussed. 

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No. 38 | July 2015

Safety and Labour Conditions : the Accord and the National Tripartite Plan of Action for the Garment Industry of Bangladesh

by Mohd Raisul Islam Khan and Christa Wichterich

The factory fire at Tazreen Fashions in 2012 and the collapse of the Rana Plaza in 2013 generated a huge outcry about the working conditions and labour relations in the Readymade Garment (RMG) industry in Bangladesh, and led to the adoption of the multi-stakeholder agreements Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Accord) at the international level and the National Tripartite Plan of Action (NTPA) at the domestic level. This paper investigates how the Accord and the NTPA have been implemented in the first two years after their adoption, whether they have contributed to an overall improvement in safety and labour conditions as well as to organizing in the RMG sector, and whether they can be considered as a “major breakthrough” and “game changer”. 

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No. 37 | July 2015

Financial Inclusion and Disparity: A Case of India

by Meenakshi Rajeev

This paper highlights the inequality in financial penetration and usage in India, based on macro level data, and shows how certain regions, such as the Northeastern or Eastern of the country need special attention by the policy makers. Credit schemes need to be formalized so that the weaker regions and socially disadvantaged sections, especially in the lower income categories, receive better access to formal credit. Based on the analysis of unit record (household level) data from the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), the gender-wise inequality is also considered persistent, particularly regarding access to credit.

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No. 36 | July 2015

In Search for Political Consciousness. The Role of Workers' Education

by Luciole Sauviat

Unionists and labour activists often speak about workers’ education, but what does the concept really imply and does it actually play a role for political consciousness? This paper is the synthesis of empirical studies from a Global Labour University (GLU) alumni research group on Workers' Education. Its uniqueness are case studies, where workers' education has been very seldom studied. Just to mention a few of the nine in depth field studies: shop steward training in Malawi, labour rights workshops in Indonesia, party education in a train depot in China, organising workshops in a syndicalist union in Canada.

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No. 35 | July 2015

The Impact of Infrastructure Provisioning on Inequality: Evidence from India

by Sumedha Bajar and Meenakshi Rajeev

India witnessed high levels of growth in the last decade but national levels of poverty and inequality remain high. Infrastructure provision is seen as a particularly important instrument for helping in regional development where government can play a significant role due to the public goods nature of infrastructure facilities. Literature confirms the positive association between infrastructure and growth. However, it is not necessary that economic growth attributable to infrastructure development will consequently lead to a reduction in inequality. This paper analyses the links between physical infrastructure and inequality and determines the nature of this relation and focuses on 17 major Indian states.

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No. 34 | July 2015

The Brazilian Credit Market: Recent Developments and Impact on Inequality

by Daniela Magalhães Prates, Adriana Nunes Ferreira and Daniela Gorayeb

The aim of this paper is analyzing the evolution of the Brazilian credit market from 2003 to 2011 and its impact on inequality in Brazil. The arguments are organized as follows. After an introductory section, the second one presents the determinants and the general trends of the banking credit market between December 2003 and December 2011, while the third section analyses the extent to which employment and incomes in the banking sector might have contributed to reduce the inequality in Brazil. The paper closes with some final remarks on the lessons that can be drawn from the Brazilian experience. 

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No. 33 | July 2015

The Brazilian Rural Development Model in the Context of Green Economy

by Lauro Mattei

This paper discusses the Brazilian rural development model in the context of Green Economy and the debate about sustainable development, issues that have been discussed in international sphere. In this way, conceptions and new concepts have been defined which clarify the ideas and mechanisms involved in this new approach. In general terms, these conceptions and concepts have proposed the organization of another social order that looks beyond purely economic aspects. 

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No. 32 | February 2015

How labor manages productivity advances and crisis response: a comparative study of automotive manufacturing in Germany and the US

by John Cody

This research study will examine how labor manages productivity advances and crisis response in both the United States and Germany’s automobile manufacturing sector, particularly in the context of technological application, workplace organization, and the political economies of both countries. In the US, labor is increasingly challenged through reductions in the workforce and lower wages while in Germany, labor has remained resilient even during the global economic crisis of 2008. This paper utilizes in-depth interviews with key actors in the automotive industry, field research at automotive plants, and an examination of relevant literature and data. Among the areas examined are automation, workforce training regimes, institutional factors, and outsourcing.

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No. 31 | February 2015

Green New Deal and the Question of Environmental and Social Justice

by Christoph Hermann

The financial and economic crisis was preceded by an energy, food and climate crisis. Until 2008, prices for oil, food and various minerals were increasing due to accelerating scarcity in peak capitalism. With the outbreak of the financial turbulences, the environmental problems shifted somewhat to the background, but various academics and policy makers emphasized the multiple nature of the current crisis. A number or organizations, subsequently, called for the adoption of a Green New Deal to tackle ecological and economic problems. The idea was that investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy production would improve ecological sustainability, while at the same time generating growth and creating jobs.......

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No. 30 | February 2015

Trade union debates on sustainable development in Brazil and Argentina

by Bruno Dobrusin

This paper analyses the development strategies followed by the governments of Argentina and Brazil since the election of left-oriented parties (2002 in Brazil and 2003 in Argentina), and focuses on the role the trade union movement has had on their policies and how it challenged their growth strategies. The main argument is that both of these countries underwent significant socio-economic improvements since these governments were elected, but this development has mainly been based on their extractive industries, such as mining, forestry, transgenic agribusiness-based agriculture and oil. These activities have produced immense wealth, which these governments very effectively distributed focusing on the poorest sectors.

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No. 29 | February 2015

Long-term trends in income distribution - a global perspective

by Thomas Obst

This paper provides a comprehensive overview of the development in income distribution and outlines its major long-term trends of 23 countries worldwide. These countries are clustered in four groups covering the core advanced, the Nordic, the emerging, and the least developed economies of the world. This paper applies different measures to analyse income distribution in three dimensions: national income, functional income distribution, and personal income distribution. Depending on the indicators applied the time period ranges between 1960 and 2012. The empirical analysis shows that increases in national incomes are most pronounced in the advanced economies.......

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No. 27 | May 2014

Progressive tax reform in OECD countries : perspectives and obstacles

by Sarah Godar, Christoph Paetz & Achim Truger

In most OECD countries the redistributive effect of the tax system has been substantially weakened by deliberate tax policies over the last decades. Despite some signs that this trend may have recently come to a halt a comprehensive policy change is not underway. One major argument brought forward against such a change is that of a serious trade-off between equity and efficiency: According to the dominant view higher taxes on top personal incomes, corporate income and wealth are detrimental to growth and employment. This paper argues that even the dominating theoretical .....

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No. 26 | May 2014

Social policies and redistribution in Brazil

by Bernhard Leubolt

This paper aims at analyzing the contribution of social policies to declining rates of income inequalities in Brazil since the 1990s. Based on a framework of historical institutionalism, Brazil is characterised as a traditionally patrimonial society, marked by the institution of slavery. Important ruptures occurred during democratization in the 1980s, when social movements successfully fought for social rights which featured prominently in the democratic constitution of 1988. During the 1990s a contradictory confluence of these achievements and neoliberal reforms ....

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No. 25 | May 2014

Social policies and redistribution in South Africa

by Bernhard Leubolt

This paper aims at analyzing the effects of social policies on income inequalities in South Africa since the 1990s. Based on a framework of historical institutionalism, the heritage of a distributional regime based on institutional racism is highlighted. This had lasting effects on social policies which also had both liberal and conservative characteristics. Democratisation at the beginning of the 1990s led to the abolishing of institutional racism and conservative features, while the new framework tended to be of a more liberal nature than before. The Post-Apartheid .....

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No. 24 | April 2014

Wage dispersion : empirical developments, explanations and reform options

by Hansjörg Herr & Bea Ruoff 

Market driven wage dispersion is a critical feature of income inequality. In this paper especially the Keynesian perspective on how to explain the global trends of rising wage dispersion is elaborated. Special attention is given to the policy implications derived from the analysis. Keynesian theory suggests that wage dispersion is a result of weaker trade union power, a lack of wage bargaining coordination and an erosion of labour market institutions after the begin of the market radical globalisation project in the 1970s/1980s.....

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No. 23 | April 2014

Inequality and the Financial System - The Case of Germany

by Daniel Detzer 

This paper examines the relationship between changes in the financial sector and the increasing inequality in Germany. For this, first an overview about the development of the main inequality indicators for Germany is given, which show inequality has been rising since the 1980s. Thereafter, the main features of the German financial system and its main changes in the last decades are reviewed. It is also looked at employment and incomes in the financial sector to determine, whether exorbitant growth of the financial sector, as observed in other countries, could be responsible for the increasing inequality. .....

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No. 22 | April 2014

A long way from tax justice: the Brazilian case

by Lena Lavinas in collaboration with Thiago Andrade Moellmann Ferro 

This paper presents the major characteristics of the Brazilian tax system, after underlining the modifications it went through since 1988, when the country adopted a new and democratic Constitution. One important feature is the marked incidence of indirect consumer and production taxes (49% of all tax revenues) in place of direct taxes on income, inheritance, and capital gains. This imbalance between indirect and direct taxes explains, in large part, the elevated regressivity of the Brazilian tax system, which both  expresses and reproduces the profound inequalities that characterize Brazilian society.

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No. 21 | February 2014

Demystifying a 'shining example': German public finances under the debt brake

by Kai Eicker-Wolf and Achim Truger

German fiscal policy is nowadays often presented as a shining example due to successful budget consolidation after the Great Recession. However, the idea that the German success is the result of a well-thought-out economic strategy that could therefore serve as a role model for other countries does not stand up to closer scrutiny. First of all, Germany’s fiscal policy escaped from an absolutely bleak outlook just three years ago only due to extraordinarily good luck. …

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No. 20 | February 2014

The European Civil Society Campaign on the Financial Transaction Tax

by Peter Wahl

The Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) has been a spearhead demand of civil society for some 15 years now. Initially put on the table by the UNDP in 1996 as an instrument of innovative financing for development, also its regulatory dimension surfaced after the Asian financial crisis 1997/98. While some governments were open to the idea, in particular France and Belgium, there was strong opposition from other countries such as the US and the UK and of the finance industry. Therefore, the FTT seemed to be doomed to disappear from the agenda.

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No. 19 | November 2013

Neoliberal Unshared Growth Regime of Turkey in the Post-2001 Period

by Hansjörg Herr and Zeynep M. Sonat

After the 2001 crisis, Turkey continued to pursue a radical market-oriented reform strategy that followed the philosophy of the Washington Consensus. By the early 2000s the government had already liberalised the capital account, privatised many banks and enterprises, and kick-started the processes of financialisation. The government had also withdrawn from redistribution and social justice policies. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the post-2001 period was relatively high, but it was a “jobless” growth caused by substantial productivity increases generated largely by intensifying the work process rather than by technological advancements...

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No.18 | November 2013

Determinants of Functional Income Distribution – Theory and Empirical Evidence

by Petra Dünhaupt

Since the 1980s, the share of wages in national income declined almost all over the world. This paper provides an overview of the evolution of labour’s share in selected OECD countries. Several theoretical approaches explaining functional income distribution are summarised. In light of the different theoretical stances, this paper reviews the empirical literature on potential explanations for the prolonged fall...

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No.17 | November 2013

Towards new Collective Bargaining, Wage and Social Protection Strategies in South Africa - Learning from the Brazilian Experience

by Neil Coleman

The Congress of South African Trade Unions COSATU has recognised that the South African labour movement is facing a major challenge in the functioning of labour market institutions inter alia because: collective bargaining institutions are fragmented and being constantly destabilised; there is no coherent wage policy in the country, to address poverty and inequality amongst workers; or a coherent framework to link our labour market strategies and institutions to a broader economic development strategy. At the heart of this paper therefore is an attempt to analyse fundamental shortcomings ....

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No.16 | August 2012: Wage Policy Today

by Hansjörg Herr and Gustav A. Horn

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No.15 | July 2012: Minimum Wage Development in the Russian Federation

by Anna Bolsheva

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No.14 | September 2011: The Quest for Alternatives beyond (Neoliberal) Capitalism

by Melisa R. Serrano and Edlira Xhafa

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No.13 | September 2011: All China Federation of Trade Unions: Structure, Functions and the Challenge of Collective Bargaining

by Rudolf Traub-Merz

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No.12 | March 2011: The Implementation of Minimum Wage: Challenges and Creative Solutions

by Chiara Benassi 

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No. 11 | March 2011: Principles of Minimum Wage Policy - Economics, Institutions and Recommendations

by Hansjörg Herr and Milka Kazandziska

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No. 10 | July 2010: Strategies for Closing the Representation Gap in Micro and Small Enterprises

by Christine Bischoff, Melisa Serrano, Edward Webster and Edlira Xhafa

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No. 9 | May 2010: Moving towards Decent Work. Labour in the Lula government: reflections on recent Brazilian experience

by Paulo Eduardo de Andrade Baltar, Anselmo Luís dos Santos et al

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In Portuguese: Trabalho no governo Lula: uma reflexão sobre a recente experiência brasileira

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No. 8 | February 2010: Developing a Labour Voice in Trade Policy at the National Level

by Donna McGuire, Christoph Scherrer et al

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No. 7 | March 2009: Servitude with a Smile: An Anti-Oppression Analysis of Emotional Labour

by Patricia Chong

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No. 6 | February 2009: The Theoretical Debate about Minimum Wages

by Hansjörg Herr, Milka Kazandziska, Silke Mahnkopf-Praprotnik

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No. 5 | November 2008: FIFA World Cup 2006 Germany: An opportunity for union revitalisation?

by Wilfried Schwetz and Donna McGuire

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No. 4 | November 2008: Marketization of the Chinese Labor Market and the Role of Unions

by Max J. Zenglein

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No. 3 | November 2008: Closing the Representation Gap in Micro and Small Enterprises

by Edward Webster et al

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No. 2 | February 2008: EU Multi-Level Trade Policy: Neither coherent nor development-friendly

by Birgit Mahnkopf

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No. 1 | February 2008: Economic Policy, Globalization and the Labour Movement: Changes in the Global Economy from the Golden Age to the Neoliberal Era

by Seeraj Mohamed

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