Labour in global production networks: Workers and unions in mining engineering work

Patricia Ann Todd, Bradon Laurence Ellem, Caleb Goods, Alistair Fraser Rainnie, Leigh Aaron Smith

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Abstract

Understanding the role of labour, underplayed in global production networks (GPN) theory, has guided this research on the mining engineering services sector. During the project, the global mining industry entered a downturn. Asking how mining and engineering firms responded to that downturn is a specific variant of wider questions about the place of labour in GPNs and whether labour can shape the GPNs of which it is part. Based on interviews with union officials, workers and management in Australia, the authors show that cost-cutting by global mining companies impacted heavily on the mining engineering sector, pressuring global and local firms. Labour – be it the work process or workers themselves – was central to how firms reacted. The agency of workers and their union was deeply constrained because of the power of companies in GPNs and the nature of the national state and local economies, areas in need of further theoretical development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-120
Number of pages23
JournalEconomic and Industrial Democracy: an international journal
Volume41
Issue number1
Early online date6 Jan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

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