Edited by John R. Bryson, Jennifer Clark and Vida Vanchan
Chapter 6: Relocation of production activities and underlying social dynamics: an analytical framework based on a Canadian perspective
The relocation of activities related to the production of goods and services profoundly disrupts industrial relations dynamics. In recent years, the practice of transferring or outsourcing production activities to other locations in Canada or abroad has been facilitated by factors such as trade liberalization and capital flows, technological development, lower transportation costs and access to skilled labour in low-wage countries (Berger, 2006; Murray, 2010). This globalized context is clearly favourable to employers since it adds to the arsenal of strategies and tactics at their disposal to pressure workers and their trade unions to accept concessions on working conditions (Jalette, 2011). The third actor in industrial relations – the state – must also deal with this context of transnationalization of production which poses considerable challenges to national regulations and public policies, highlighting the vulnerability of both the state itself and local communities in the face of employer options to relocate production activities (Murray, 2012). An in-depth knowledge of business decisions regarding the transfer of production activities is thus needed in order to understand the social dynamics that such decisions bring to bear in labour–management relations and beyond. In the current context, it is generally held that workers, the state and local communities can only stand by and watch the flow of production location transfers, being utterly powerless and lacking the capabilities or resources to stop them.
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