University of Cambridge > > St Catharine's Political Economy Seminars > ST CATHARINE'S POLITICAL ECONOMY SEMINARS: WILLIAM BROWN


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The next St Catharine’s Political Economy Seminar in the series on the Economics of Austerity, will be held on Wednesday 7th May 2014. William Brown will give a talk on ‘The Use of Supply Chain Disruption to Fight for Workers’ Rights’. The seminar will be held in the Ramsden Room at St Catharine’s College from 6.00-7.30 pm. All are welcome.

William Brown is Emeritus Professor of Industrial Relations at Cambridge University and Honorary Professor of Renmin University of China. His publications include Piecework Bargaining (1973), The Changing Contours of British Industrial Relations (1981), The Individualisation of Employment Contracts in Britain (1998) and The Evolution of the Modern Workplace (2009). He was a foundation member of the Low Pay Commission, which fixes the UK’s National Minimum Wage. He is a member of the ACAS Panel of Arbitrators, and was an independent member of the ACAS Council and of the Union Modernisation Fund Advisory Board. His current research is on Chinese industrial relations and the use of consumer pressure to enhance labour standards.

In this presentation William Brown will argue that the standards of employment are under constant pressure from the globalisation of markets and the decline of trade union influence. A growing feature of the world economy is extended supply chains and a reliance on brand names for marketing. Enterprises become vulnerable to reputational risk if firms with disreputable employment practices are identified within their supply chains. Exploiting this risk has become an important strategy, which is being countered by corporate policies aimed at promoting socially sustainable sourcing. Research on the clothing industry sheds light on the effectiveness of both statutory and voluntary intervention.

Please contact the seminar organisers Philip Arestis ( and Michael Kitson ( in the event of a query.

This talk is part of the St Catharine's Political Economy Seminars series.

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