Varied Informality in Transnational Firms.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Kiran MIRCHANDANI, University of Toronto, Canada
Sanjukta MUKHERJEE, DePaul University, USA
Shruti TAMBE, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, India, India
In India’s major cities, large, glass-faced corporate offices occupy special economic zones and stand in marked contrast to the surrounding public infrastructure. Middle class workers find the prospect of working in transnational firms in India attractive in part because of the environment of work. Air conditioned, spic and span offices, transportation to and from work, and a high security environment are promoted as perks of employment with foreign firms. In this paper, we explore the employment arrangements and training of those who provide transport, security, and housekeeping services for India’s transnational firms. Drawing on over one hundred interviews with workers, subcontractors, facilities managers and policy makers conducted between 2010 and 2014, we explore the work experiences and training of these low-wage workers (specifically, drivers, security guards and housekeepers) who support and provide the physical infrastructure for transnational organizations in India.

State initiatives designed to promote the influx of foreign capital have overridden (through poor enforcement) many of India’s labour laws in the past two decades. This has given rise to a situation where despite unprecedented grown in the GDP since the 1990s, there has also been an increasing informalization of labour in India (Jhabvala and Standing, 2010). Ironically, corporations which are unambiguously part of India’s formal sector and are infused with foreign capital which allow them to create lavish organizational campuses, are the very ones in which labour informality pervades (Nigam, 1997). We explore the ways in which informalization is prevalent in low-wage service sectors and the impact of this employment arrangement on the lives of workers. We also explore the diverse manifestations of informality and varied employment relationships present amongst the three groups of workers we studied – drivers, housekeepers and security guards. We trace the training requirements which workers face as a result of the informality they face.