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‘Unionising’ the new spaces of the new economy?Alternativelabour organising in India’s IT Enabled Services–Business Process Outsourcing industry

Authors
Journal
Geoforum
0016-7185
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
41
Issue
3
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2009.11.003
Keywords
  • New Economy
  • Call Centres
  • Information Technology Enabled Services (Ites)
  • Business Process Outsourcing (Bpo)
  • Labour Organising
  • India
  • Global South
Disciplines
  • Economics

Abstract

Abstract This paper explores the lived experiences and aspirational social constructions of call centre work and employment in India’s high profile IT Enabled Services–Business Process Outsourcing (ITES–BPO) industry; the ways in which they differ from those previously documented amongst call centre workers in the Global North (specifically the UK); and the consequences of that geographical reconfiguration of offshored call centre work for the replicability in India of workplace collective bargaining strategies successfully developed in some UK call centres. These issues are analysed using new empirical evidence from a regional survey of 511 non-unionised ITES–BPO workers and 42 in-depth interviews in India’s National Capital Region. Based on this analysis, the paper then discusses the operation, outcomes and ongoing challenges faced by the newly formed ‘Union for ITES Professionals’ (UNITES Pro) in developing an alternative occupational organising model better suited to the particular needs, motivations and preferences of India’s young, mobile, call centre workers. The empirical analysis presented in the paper is located, therefore, within wider debates on the role of geographical context in shaping possibilities for organising white-collar service workers at different ends of global service chains in the new economy.

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