Struggles over sugar

The latest article to be published online is by Patrick V. Oabel of the University of British Columbia in Canada. Entitled “Last of the Labour Aristocrats: Restructuring of the Philippine Sugar Industry and the Exportist Labour Market,” the paper offers new insights on worker struggles in an industry with global connections.

SugarThe abstract states: “This article uses the local labour market to examine the development and restructuring of exportist dynamics within the Philippine sugar industry and its effects on industrial labour. In contrast to Fordism, exportism argues that stable development occurs in regions that rely on the production of exports for foreign markets. The approach illustrates how specific production sectors in Asia were integral to Fordist growth. With its processes constituted on the ground, I focus on the struggle over workplace changes that occurred from 1995–2010 at the Victorias sugar mill located in the province of Negros Occidental. In particular, I discuss the 2003 worker walkout as a key institutional moment that marked the end of a labour market form that helped define the industry during its exportist period under American neocolonialism. At the same time, the disintegration of the labour market during the 1990s–2000s further signalled major shifts in power within the sugar society as Chinese-Filipino traders and industrialists continued to consolidate key areas of the industry. Examining Victorias’ restructuring sheds light on the broader linkages between exportist and Fordist forms of growth, and how these processes were constituted, regulated and reorganised through the workings of an “exportist labour market” at the local level.”

Patrick recently completed his PhD at UBC’s excellent Geography Department.

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