Labour in Global Value Chains: Work Conditions in Football Manufacturing in China, India and Pakistan

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Development and Change, 2012, 43 (6), pp. 1211 - 1237
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A critical challenge facing developing country producers is to meet international labour standards and codes of conduct in order to engage in global value chains. Evidence of gains for workers from compliance with such standards and codes remains limited and patchy. This article focuses on the global football industry, a sector dominated by leading global brands that manage dispersed global value chains. It assesses the working conditions for football stitchers engaged in different forms of work organization, factories, stitching centres and home-based settings in Pakistan, India and China. It draws on detailed qualitative primary field research with football-stitching workers and producers in these three countries. The article explains how and why work conditions of football stitchers differ across these locations through an analytical framework that interweaves both global and local production contexts that influence work conditions. In doing so, it argues that current debates on the role of labour in global value chains have to go beyond a narrow focus on labour standards and corporate social responsibility compliance and engage with economic, technological and social upgrading as factors that could generate sustained improvements in real wages and workers' conditions. © 2012 International Institute of Social Studies.
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