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The Empire Has No Clothes! The Experience of Fiji's Garment Workers in Global Context

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Title:The Empire Has No Clothes! The Experience of Fiji's Garment Workers in Global Context
Authors:Harrington, Christy E.
Keywords:Melanesia - Fiji
LC Subject Headings:Women clothing workers--Fiji
Investments, Foreign, and employment--Government Policy-- Fiji.$ownership.
Date Issued:1994
Abstract:In 1988, with the encouragement of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the Fiji government implemented the Tax Free Zones and Factories (TFF) program in an attempt to achieve economic recovery in the wake of the 1987 coups. The TFF initiative attracted significant foreign investment, primarily in the garment industry. As a result of the TFF scheme, the government of Fiji was successful in achieving marked growth in GDP. But this growth has been based on the underpaid labor of the predominantly female workforce. The colonial legacy and the gender division of labor allocate to women in Fiji the most labor-intensive, poorly rewarded tasks inside and outside the home, as well as the longest hours of work. Recent industrialization under the TFF initiative has created many more employment opportunities for women, especially in the garment industry, but these are poorly remunerated. The primary purpose of the research presented here was to explore the impact that the TFF scheme has had on the women workers. In order to meet that objective, the body of local literature on the TFF scheme was explored, and interviews were conducted with garment workers, union leaders and government officials. The second objective of the thesis was to identify some of the important forces that shape women workers' experiences of recent industrialization in their country. This involved placing Fiji's experience in a wider context through a review of the literature on export-oriented industrialization in less developed countries. The research conducted indicates that Fiji's TFF scheme is similar in several ways to the Export Processing Zones and Free Trade Zones that have opened up in many less developed countries in the last two decades. In order to increase profits, multinational corporations have relocated the labor-intensive aspects of their production processes to such zones around the world. This trend of export-oriented industrialization in the Third World depends for its success on the exploitation of wage-labor on a global scale, and can therefore be perceived as the latest stage of capitalist imperialism. Export production schemes, instituted at the prompting of the World Bank, have often been to the detriment of the workers because manufacturers accumulate their profits by keeping wages low. Internationally, these practices have resulted in a low quality of life for women industrial workers because of long working hours in addition to their responsibilities in the home. Such trends in export production zones show continuity with the effects of foreign capital during the colonial period. The thesis strives to place the issue of women's experiences of recent industrialization in Fiji in this wider context, looking for similarities in the industrial experience of women in other less developed nations, as well as for the particularities which differentiate Fiji's women's situation. The thesis argues that it is the tension between low wages and high profits, and therefore between labor and capital, that is the primary force determining developments in Fiji's TFF scheme today.
Description:Thesis (M.A.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1994
Pacific Islands Studies
Pages/Duration:iii, 95 leaves
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: M.A. - Pacific Islands Studies
Pacific Islands Studies Plan A Masters Theses

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