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Mobilizing Restraint

Mobilizing Restraint: Democracy and Industrial Conflict in Post-Reform South Asia

Emmanuel Teitelbaum
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press,
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Mobilizing Restraint
    Book Description:

    In Mobilizing Restraint, Emmanuel Teitelbaum argues that, contrary to conventional wisdom, democracies are better at managing industrial conflict than authoritarian regimes. This is because democracies have two unique tools at their disposal for managing worker protest: mutually beneficial union-party ties and worker rights. By contrast, authoritarian governments have tended to repress unions and to sever mutually beneficial ties to organized labor. Many of the countries that fall between these two extremes-from those that have only the trappings of democracy to those that have imperfectly implemented democratic reforms-exert control over labor in the absence of overt repression but without the robust organizational and institutional capacity enjoyed by full-fledged democracies. Based on the recent history of industrial conflict and industrial peace in South Asia, Teitelbaum argues that the political exclusion and repression of organized labor commonly witnessed in authoritarian and hybrid regimes has extremely deleterious effects on labor relations and ultimately economic growth.

    To test his arguments, Teitelbaum draws on an array of data, including his original qualitative interviews and survey evidence from Sri Lanka and three Indian states-Kerala, Maharashtra, and West Bengal. He also analyzes panel data from fifteen Indian states to evaluate the relationship between political competition and worker protest and to study the effects of protective labor legislation on economic performance. In Teitelbaum's view, countries must undergo further political liberalization before they are able to replicate the success of the sophisticated types of growth-enhancing management of industrial protest seen throughout many parts of South Asia.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6335-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xxiv)
  7. CHAPTER 1 Introduction: The Political Management of Industrial Conflict
    (pp. 1-24)

    How should developing countries manage the social and economic tensions inherent in periods of rapid economic change? Are democratic states handicapped in their efforts to promote rapid economic growth by the fact that they afford workers greater freedom to form unions and to strike? Or do the freedoms afforded to workers make protest more manageable over time?

    These questions are hardly new. From the moment the Luddites began destroying looms in nineteenth-century Britain, states have struggled to manage the dislocation and unrest associated with modern factory production. Governments have employed a variety of strategies to curtail and institutionalize industrial conflict,...

  8. Part I. A Puzzle and an Argument

    • CHAPTER 2 Industrial Relations in the Context of Economic Change
      (pp. 27-48)

      In January 1982, Datta Samant, president of the Maharashtra Girni Kamgar Union (MGKU), led a quarter of a million textile workers on a sectorwide strike in Mumbai. Samant’s demands included a wage increase of between 25 and 50 percent (depending on the factory), a bonus increase of 20 percent, and guaranteed permanent employment for all textile workers (Lakha 2002, 236). Lasting for more than eighteen months, the strike was the largest in India’s history by almost any measure.¹ Samant drove a hard bargain, but employers refused to budge. Ultimately, rather than meeting the union’s demands, owners of dozens of firms...

    • CHAPTER 3 A Political Theory of Industrial Protest
      (pp. 49-82)

      In chapter 2, we saw how economic liberalization, globalization, and the shift of production to small-scale units and rural areas decreased the bargaining power of unions. Instead of meeting union demands in a rush to resume production, employers increasingly responded to routine strike actions by locking workers out of factories, shifting operations, or closing down factories altogether. These economic trends made it more difficult for workers to call out strikes and at the same time increased tensions between workers and managers, thereby giving rise to more turbulent industrial relations.

      At the same time, not all unions in South Asia responded...

  9. Part II. The Evidence

    • CHAPTER 4 Democracy, Union-Party Ties, and Industrial Conflict
      (pp. 85-112)

      The analysis in the last chapter generated a set of specific predictions regarding how democracy and the organizational structure of the union movement relate to the protest behavior of workers. We saw that political competition encourages the development of union-party ties as party leaders rely more heavily on unions to establish political support among working-class voters. At the same time, union-party ties help to moderate worker protest. Because they are constrained by the interests of a broader political constituency, major party unions (MPUs) will mobilize restraint, eschewing aggressive bargaining and protest tactics and refraining from strikes when they are unlikely...

    • CHAPTER 5 Labor Institutions, FACB Rights, and Economic Performance in India
      (pp. 113-137)

      In addition to the political impetus for restraining worker protest, chapter 3 discussed the benefits of associational rights for managing industrial unrest. Specifically, we saw that democracies typically enact more regulation to protect freedom of association and collective bargaining (FACB) rights and promote the institutionalized resolution of worker grievances. FACB rights are crucial to the effectiveness of institutions such as labor courts and tribunals, arbitration proceedings, conciliation proceedings, and legally binding collective bargaining agreements. And such institutions are effective in reducing exploitation and providing industrial relations stability where workers can assert their rights. Conversely where workers lack rights such institutions...

    • CHAPTER 6 The Deleterious Effects of Labor Repression in Sri Lanka
      (pp. 138-159)

      The last two chapters have demonstrated how democracies can draw on synergistic ties and labor institutions to manage worker protest in the context of rapid economic change. However, not all governments choose to respond to labor in this way. As we saw in chapter 5, even India’s Industrial Disputes Act—famed for its highly protective provisions—includes public utilities provisions that violate workers’ associational rights. In fact, the absence of robust political competition and union-party ties often entails that repression is the primary strategy for responding to organized labor in low- and middle-income countries, even those that have adopted the...

    • CHAPTER 7 Conclusion: Theoretical and Policy Implications
      (pp. 160-174)

      Like most developing democracies, national and regional governments throughout South Asia have struggled to manage the social tension and conflicts inherent in periods of rapid economic transition. There has been great variation in the nature and effectiveness of these attempts. Some, like the southwestern state of Kerala, provide examples of how democratic governments can forge class compromise without substantially undermining worker interests. Others, like Sri Lanka, have only fomented greater instability through their efforts to eliminate working-class opposition to economic reforms. This book has demonstrated that the effectiveness of government strategies in managing industrial conflict is directly related to the...

  10. APPENDIX A. Survey Methods and Response Rates
    (pp. 175-182)
  11. APPENDIX B. Labor Law Coding
    (pp. 183-194)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 195-204)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 205-216)
  14. Index
    (pp. 217-220)