Reinforcing the State: Transnational and State Labor Regulation in Indonesia
41 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2016 Last revised: 16 Mar 2016
Date Written: March 4, 2016
Research on global programs to regulate labor standards has emphasized interactions between transnational and state regulatory institutions. If transnational initiatives can make state institutions more relevant, global efforts have the potential to reinforce, rather than displace, state labor regulation. Through a study of the Indonesia-based program of a leading initiative to improve working conditions in the garment industry, Better Work, this paper identifies the conditions under which transnational regulations reinforce domestic ones. Drawing on two case studies comparing processes to regulate fixed-term contracts and minimum wage renegotiations in four Indonesian districts, we find that reinforcement is likely when two conditions jointly occur: unions mobilize to activate state institutions, and transnational regulators have support to resolve ambiguities in formal rules. We further test the relationship between these conditions and reinforcement through a quantitative analysis of factory participation in state supervised wage renegotiations. Our findings also suggest opportunities and constraints to designing global programs that both improve factory-level standards and support the functioning of state labor market institutions.
Keywords: Labor, regulation, Indonesia, state, transnational
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