The Absence of Decent Work: The Continued Development of Forced and Unfree Labour in India

Jamie Morgan, Wendy Olsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract: This paper examines the continuing growth of forced and unfree labour. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has developed a concept of sets a standard for decent work and set this as a standard in 1999 (Ghai 2006). However, in many places in the world, people labour under conditions which are far from ‘decent’. People are subject to forced labour and they experience unfreedoms. This raises important theoretical and practical issues of why and how forced labour is continuing to be generated in India. First we set out some of the ways in which forced labour manifests itself and has been changing over recent years in India. India is of particular interest because, according to the ILO, Asia, and particularly India, has more victims of forced labour than any other region. India illustrates how, as elsewhere, specific structures of social relations underpin one’s vulnerability to becoming a victim of forced labour. India’s experiences also illustrate that forms of forced labour integrate into and develop within capitalism. Although neo-liberalism is formally opposed to forced labour, neoliberal policies also facilitate its reproduction and spread.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Labour Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • decent work
  • forced labour
  • India
  • ILO


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