Spinning a Yarn: The Effect of Labour Recruitment on Labour Coercion in the Indian Textile Industry
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This study offers a comparative assessment of the position of labour in the Indian textile industry in the late-nineteenth- and twenty-first-century. It asks how changes in labour recruitment over the period have affected the degree of coercion exerted upon workers. Research on labour coercion seldom investigates the strategies by which labour is supplied to the production site and therefore overlooks the initial cause of inequality in labour relationships. This study finds that the recruitment of workers from low socioeconomic groups is a long-term strategy pursued by employers to lower the cost of labour; workers' low socioeconomic position increases their vulnerability to labour coercion. The informality of labour markets and lack of robust state regulation are continuities over the period which cause the persistence of labour coercion, whilst changes in the recruitment of female, casual and migrant workers have lowered the workforce's collective bargaining position. To reduce labour coercion, the socioeconomic position of labour needs improvement through state investment in workers' social housing.