Globalization and Labor Term Paper

Pages: 10 (2641 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 15  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature - Latin-American

Just as their counterparts on the line in Sunnyvale, California, Malaysian electronics workers have a difficult time organizing unions, in fact there are zero unions in both places (Bacon Pp). G. Rajasekaran, secretary general of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress, says although the law says they can unionize, in practice they cannot, "The governments of Asia seem to have been convinced by employers that workers shouldn't have the right to organize and bargain. And U.S. companies are among those most guilty of violating our rights" (Bacon Pp).

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Putting the WTO in charge of enforcing labor standards is supported by some unions in the developing world, but opposed by others. Explains Rajasekaran, "Some of our colleagues fear linking trade to labor standards, that they will be used as a tool for protectionism, India, for example, has lots of child labor, and fears sanctions will be applied because of it" (Bacon Pp). Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, recognizes that "there is a controversy in the developing South about labor standards. Workers are worried about the loss of jobs, and suspect these proposals are a disguise for protectionism by unions in developed countries" (Bacon Pp). Nair Goulart of Forza Sindical, a Brazilian labor organization reports that after twenty-five years of liberalization, "the difference between rich and poor is wider than ever," with unemployment at roughly ten percent and workers buying power at near thirty percent of what it was in the 1980's (Bacon Pp). Says Goulart, "The UN Development Program says the goal of investment and trade liberalization is to improve the quality of life. Yet we are competing to sell our natural resources and our workforce for the lowest possible price" (Bacon Pp).

Term Paper on Globalization and Labor Globalization Is Assignment

Moreover, the gap between rich and poor countries is widening. In the 1950's the difference in standard of living between the United States and Mexico was 3:1, today, according to Mexican economist Alejandro Alvarez Bejar, the difference is 16:1, a difference that impoverishes Mexican workers and is the cause of the loss of American jobs as corporations relocate production (Bacon Pp).

During the 1990's, the rate of unionization fell by more than twenty percent in thirty-five of the sixty-six countries, for which comparable data was available, with the sharpest declines seen in Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, France, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, the United States, and Venezuela, as well as the former Eastern bloc countries (Newland Pp). Only Hong Kong (prior to the resumption of Chinese control in 1997) and the Philippines have seen union membership increase significantly (Newland Pp). In Indonesia, repressive actions designed to curb labor unrest and the possible development of a non-state sanctioned labor movement continues, with the response of the government being to adopt a "carrot and stick" strategy which maintains strict control over such labor rights as freedom to organize, yet allows for periodic increases in the state-defined minimum wage (Hadiz Pp).

Empirical evidence shows that critics of globalization are wrong about the effects of global capitalism on inequality, both within and among countries (Vasquez Pp). A recent World Bank study compared the performance of globalizing and nonglobalizing developing countries and found that globalizing countries had higher growth rates (approximately 5% in the 1990s) than other countries, rich or poor (Vasquez Pp). According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, it takes two days, two bureaucratic procedures, and $280 to open a business in Canada, an entrepreneur in Bolivia must wait eighty-two business days, go through twenty procedures, and pay $2,696 in fees, while in Hungary, the same operation takes fifty-three business days, ten procedures, and $3,647 (Vasquez Pp). Such costly barriers favor big firms at the expense of small enterprises, where most jobs are created, and push a large proportion of the developing world's population into the informal economy (Vasquez Pp).

Only four African countries, Ghana, Mauritius, Mozambique, and Uganda, began a period of sustained economic growth after moving to a regime of greater openness, and although some African countries have experienced greater contacts with other countries over the last several centuries, much of that contact has been of a constrained form with a limited range of foreign countries and has actually hindered other possible forms of global integration (Schneider Pp). During the last two decades, generally considered to be the onset of the globalization phenomenon, most African countries have seen very little in the way of increased foreign investment, increased trade flows, and increased access to information, despite the prying open of African economies by the SAPs of the IMF and the World Bank (Schneider Pp). George Soros argues that "the capitalist system can be compared to an empire that is more global in its coverage than any previous empire. It rules entire civilization" (Kim Pp).

The economic tendency resulting from competition is to equalize wages and social standards across countries, however, instead of cheap labor moving to where the cheap labor is, and bids wages up, or would do so if only there were not a nearly unlimited supply of cheap labor, "a Malthusian situation that still prevails in much of the world" (Daly Pp). Still. wages in the capital-sending country are bid down as much as if the newly employed laborers in the low-wage country had actually immigrated to the high-wage country (Daly Pp).

The emergence of global factories, offices and labs suggests that national governments in both developing and industrialized countries have come to operate within a global production system that "substantially shapes the strategic options as well as policy instruments at their disposal (Camilleri Pp). The income gap between landowners who have the purchasing power to apply new agricultural techniques and the poor peasants who do not, is widening (Camilleri Pp). As of the late 1990's some ninety-three countries with sixty-two percent of the world's population were still struggling to reduce infant mortality rates, and as many as seventy countries had little prospect of substantially reducing income poverty (Camilleri Pp).

Work Cited

Petras, James. "Globalization: A Critical Analysis."

Journal of Contemporary Asia; 3/1/1999; Pp.

Williamson Jr., Handy. "Globalization and Poverty: Lessons From the Theory and Practice of Food Security Discussion." American Journal of Agricultural Economics; 8/1/2001; Pp.

Bacon, David. "Globalization: Two Faces, Both Ugly." Dollars & Sense; 3/1/2000;


Newland, Kathleen. "Workers of the world, now what? ." Foreign Policy; 3/22/1999; Pp.

Vasquez, Ian. "Globalization and the poor." Independent Review; 9/22/2002; Pp.

Schneider, Geoffrey E. "Globalization and the poorest of the poor: global integration and the development process in Sub-Saharan Africa."

Journal of Economic Issues; 6/1/2003; Pp.

Kim, Sangmoon; Shin, Eui-Hang. "A longitudinal analysis of globalization and regionalization in international trade: A social network approach." Social Forces; 12/1/2002; Pp.

Daly, Herman E. "Population, migration, and globalization." World Watch;

9/1/2004; Pp.

Camilleri, Joseph A. "Globalization of insecurity: the democratic imperative."

International Journal on World Peace; 12/1/2001; Pp.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Globalization and Labor.  (2004, December 2).  Retrieved February 28, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Globalization and Labor."  2 December 2004.  Web.  28 February 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Globalization and Labor."  December 2, 2004.  Accessed February 28, 2021.