Naila Kabeer is not your average economist. She speaks directly about the human condition, performs fieldwork and complies her own statistics. In this episode of Meet the Renegades, we speak to Naila about global access to labour markets, the strain living in an economy puts on the ability to act in solidarity. Her work is a source of optimism.
“Labor moves because there are fewer opportunities in some places, and more opportunities in others.”
Globalisation brought new opportunities to countries like Bangladesh and Tunisia that favoured cheap, less organised female labour. It served as a positive for those previously denied wages, but created more competition elsewhere. Labour markets move to exploit such opportunities.
“The discussion about immigration is about people’s identities, not about them as labourers and workers.”
Is there a limit to what the market can provide? Naila worries that we are substituting society for the ideology of a free market which provides everything. Too much focus on the individual leaves the status of unions and labour organisations at a stand still, leaving workers at a disadvantage. Naila argues that organising workers in all sectors to create a common identity will lead corporations to respond to pressures that the working-class demands.
As this issue seems insurmountable, Naila focuses on the positives and looks for those that do organise and stand up to the power. She is able to remain optimistic about future possibilities of proportional representation, increased access to labour markets through investment, and increased bargaining power with more organisations and unions.