Strategies of Empowerment for DW

Due to prevailing conflicts of interest in the world of work, good working conditions can only be attained and protected if employees or the underemployed are able to advocate their interests in economic and political decision-making processes. Access to information and avenues of participation in decision making processes may also contribute to the more efficient use of resources, including labor power. However, the growing informal nature of work is eroding the capacity of workers for collective action. Informal workers are not able to draw on market-based power as they lack formal skills, nor are they in large enterprises where they can draw on workplace bargaining power. A particularly vulnerable group is domestic workers. Significant numbers of women in the Global South work as domestic workers in their home countries and, increasingly, as migrant domestic workers abroad. In agriculture, new threats to the rural population emerge as the extensive use of land for agro-fuels (e.g. in Brazil) endanger traditional land-use forms of survival.

Against this background a search for new sources of power and new forms of organization becomes urgent. What kind of empowerment strategies can already be identified in the informal economy? What role can ILO conventions and human rights interventions play in giving marginalized persons a voice? What forms of participation allow for improving productivity and employment conditions in labor-intensive, low external input production systems? And more fundamentally, what kind of visions for development shall inform the request for more participation, given the limits of the current mode of 'development' in light of the impending climate crisis and depletion of polluting fossil fuels?

Research projects in the Strategies of Empowerment for Decent Work research cluster: