Labour Geography: Labour Markets at Different Scales

By Fiona Ferbrache

Recently, the airline manufacturer Airbus has been catching my eye via online and printed advertisements, and also through the news.  The world’s largest passenger airliner, the A380, was on display at the Farnborough Airshow last week, and yesterday my neighbour was even wearing an Airbus cap purchased after a tour around the assembly plant in Toulouse.

Airbus is a consortium formed by national aerospace companies in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain.  With headquarters and assembly point in Toulouse, Airbus also has assembly lines in Hamburg, and Tianjin (China), and various subsidiary companies in the US, India and Japan.  Recently, Airbus made headlines with the announcement that it will establish an assembly line in Mobile, Alabama (the company’s first US-based production facility).  Airbus President and CEO confirmed this as a positive move that will create much needed jobs, and enhance Airbus’ global competitiveness.  An alternative view expressed by European labour force unions can be read in the Telegraph.

Jumping from global companies to small-scale rural economies in the developing world, Carswell (2012) presents research on local labour markets in rural India.  Carswell explores how labour markets are locally constituted and segmented by comparing the differences between two villages separated by only a few miles.  She examines the range of job opportunities available to people in the two villages, and how belonging to different social groups influences these opportunities.  The findings reveal the ways in which labour market segmentation is complex and beyond the assumption that it might be simply caste-based.  Carswell argues that “having an industry on your doorstep means very different things for different people” – a sentiment that is also borne out in reports on the Airbus expansion.

Grace Carswell, Dalits and local labour markets in rural India: experiences from the Tiruppur textile region in Tamil Nadu, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00530.x

Test pilots put the A380 through its paces at Farnborough Airshow, BBC News, 10 July 2012

Airbus to establish assembly line in United States, Airbus, 2 July 2012

Airbus’s US move highlights redefinition of globalisation, The Telegraph, 5 July 2012

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