This education module on capital mobility explains the capitalist crisis, and assesses the impact of capital mobility on workers and trade unions. The module also provides stories of workers in the global supply chains and their struggles.
Southeast Asian economies show notable performance in the recent years. In 2013, for instance, the growth rate of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) is 4.9 per cent compared to the entire world’s GDP growth rate of 3.0 per cent. However, despite this significant GDP growth rate, employment in Southeast Asia did not rise in the same rate as the GDP has risen. It has grown only by 1.5 per cent. Moreover, poverty remains prevalent and income gaps become wider. In other words, the economic growth in numbers does not translate to the improvement of the quality of lives of the people at the grassroots level.
Recognising that economies in Asia are developing very fast, there is a considerably widening gap in terms of income as indicated by the Gini coefficients per country. For example, in most of the countries including Laos and Vietnam the income gap has been widening while the economy grows. Aside from increasing informalisation of jobs, there are also other indicators indicating that the labor situation has not improved in the last decade. It is true that poverty in Asia is decreasing but relative poverty has been increasing which means that the income gap in society has become more serious. There are more self-employed and own account workers and more women than men in these categories. The situation of women is relatively worse than men in the informal economy because they have no voice and visibility particularly in decision making processes. Aside from increasing precarious work, the marginalised informal workers also suffer from privatisation of public goods. Increasing occupational risks comprise another difficulty faced by informal workers.