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Reshad N. Ahsan, Arghya Ghosh and Devashish Mitra
Canadian Journal of Economics, Volume 50, Issue 2, May 2017
We exploit exogenous variation in tariffs to examine the impact of import competition on unionization and union wages in a developing country. Using a combination of nationally representative household data (National Sample Survey Organization) and nationally representative industry-level data (Annual Survey of Industries) from India, we find that net-import industries that experienced larger cuts in tariffs also experienced larger declines in unionization. In addition, we find that these industries also experienced larger increases in union wages. These results are consistent with the predictions of an efficient bargaining framework that we extend to endogenize the union formation decision by allowing for a fixed cost of union formation. We also conduct a back-of-the-envelope calculation to show that the total wage gains to unionized workers marginally exceed the total wage losses to deunionized workers.
Courtesy: Wiley online library
It is often claimed that industrial restructuring leads to diminished roles for trade unionism and other forms of labour organisations by informalising employment and relocating production. Drawing on selected case studies from long-term fieldwork in regions of India, this article shows that trajectories of industrial restructuring and the responses by organised labour over the past two decades have been diverse. It is argued that the diverse response not only reflects structural opportunities and constraints for labour to be organised in particular ways, but also different histories and experiences of labour association. Contrary to the presumption about the general demise of trade unionism and the apparent unattainability of class solidarity in contemporary globalised capitalism, it is observed that India’s labour movement is experiencing a degree of resurgence, and new forms of labour organisations and activism are emerging, especially involving informal workers in the formal sector. That these innovative forms of mobilisation are shaped by experiences and aspirations that do not conform to the established institutionalised frameworks for dispute resolution has important policy and political implications.