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Worker Resistance and Media

Challenging Global Corporate Power in the 21st Century


Lina Dencik and Peter Wilkin

With developments in media technologies creating new opportunities and challenges for social movements to emerge and mobilize, this book is a timely and necessary examination of how organized labour and workers movements are engaging with this shifting environment. Based on extensive empirical research into emerging migrant and low-wage workers movements and their media practices, this book takes a critical look at the nature of worker resistance to ever-growing global corporate power in a digital age. Situating trade unionism in historical context, the book considers other forms of worker organizations and unionism, including global unionism, social movement unionism, community unionism, and syndicalist unionism, all of which have become increasingly relevant in a digitized world-system. At a time when the labour movement is said to be in crisis, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the state of the labour movement, the future of unions, and the possibilities for challenging corporate exploitation of workers today.
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Chapter 6. The Domestic Workers Movement—Connecting Informal Labour




The organising of domestic workers is celebrated as one of the biggest success stories of the labour movement in recent years. Despite the age of the profession, domestic workers have historically been operating on the margins of the global economy, excluded by national labour laws, government policies and trade unions. Data on the size of the workforce are difficult to collect due to the high degree of informality of the sector, but estimates suggest there are at least 53 million domestic workers worldwide, not including child domestic workers, and this number is increasing steadily in developed and developing countries. Eighty-three percent of them are women (ILO, 2014). This workforce has been the backbone of global corporate growth in the last 30 years by sustaining ‘global cities’ (Sassen, 1991) through the fulfilment of tasks and duties at low cost such as cleaning, cooking, child-care, and nursing, not otherwise sufficiently supplied by the state. Such services have enabled sections of the middle classes and the growing ‘transnational capitalist class’ (Sklair, 2002) to work longer and flexible hours away from home in the interest of capital. Keeping this labour informal has meant that the contribution these workers are making to GDPs often goes entirely unrecognised.

Over the last few years, however, there have been significant developments towards formalising this ‘invisible’ workforce within a union framework, ← 161 | 162 → pushing domestic workers out of the shadows to become recognised globally as...

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