Labour, Global Value Chains and the Re-Shoring of Work and Employment

View the timetable for the conference here

Evidence of the re-shoring of production and services to the UK and Continental Europe has brought a new imperative for fresh research on the role of labour in global value chains (GVCs). The latter have become a key element in the organisation of production and services within twenty- first century capitalism. The shift of production and jobs back to the Global North, in sectors as diverse as call and contact centres and apparel manufacturing, raises important questions about the sources of competitive and comparative advantage. Has the steady movement towards deregulated labour markets within Europe – a process pursued with varying degrees of commitment across member states – provided a more permissive environment for capital to source production from producers and suppliers more closely integrated into local and national retail markets? Or is re-shoring being propelled by quality, productivity and value considerations rather than the severe violations of labour standards that appear to be occurring in some GVCs?

Recognising that established conceptual frameworks within the GVC literature have tended to slight the role of labour, the Centre for Sustainable Work and Employment Futures at the University of Leicester is committed to investigating the role of labour standards and employment practices in GVCs and the social, economic, and technological dynamics that are constructing the contemporary international division of labour.

The Centre held a day conference entitled ‘Labour, Global Value Chains and the Re-Shoring of Work and Employment’ on Friday 6th February at College Court, Leicester.

The conference addressed six connected themes:

  • the impact of GVC restructuring on work and employment relations;
  • the role of labour costs, the institutional and regulatory context;
  • changing forms of GVC governance and the role of global logistics;
  • re-shoring as a product of multi-locational strategies by lead firms;
  • the position of the UK in a wider European context;
  • strategies to ensure representation and labour standards for vulnerable workers in the supply chain.


Chaired by Professor Peter Nolan, the conference included the following presentations:

Dr Kirsty Newsome, University of Sheffield, ‘Circulating Capital: The Value in Distribution and Logistics Work and Employment’

Dr Nikolaus Hammer, University of Leicester, 'The Price of Re-shoring: Work and Employment in UK's Fast Fashion Industry'

Professor Phil Taylor, University of Strathclyde, ‘Bringing It all Back Home – The Re-shoring of Call Centres’

Dr Jean Jenkins, Cardiff University, ‘Organising at the Grass Roots: Local Voices need Global Allies’

Lucy Brill, Homeworkers Worldwide, 'Homeworkers in Global Value Chains'


For more information please contact Gemma Parker

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