Global Labour University

The flagship publication returns

GLU Working Paper series has made a comeback after an extended hiatus. 

The series started back in 2008, and has served as a platform for GLU members and associates of the network, as well as GLU alumni, to publish stimulating research on issues around globalisation and labour.

The first Working Paper in 2024  was “Workers in Informal Employment Organising and Acting Collectively: The Role of Trade Unions “, by GLU alumni Edlira Xhafa and Melisa Serrano. The paper tackles the expansion of informal employment that has increased exploitation and decent work deficits, leading to widespread poverty and growing inequalities

This publication was followed by “Labour Perspectives on China”, also from June 2024, which is a complication of various articles published on the Global Labour Column website. It addresses  the question of labour in a world of re-emerging geopolitics and analyzing China´s role in it.

The latest one “Informal work and how to measure it: a formal consensus at the 100th International Conference of Labour Statisticians”  takes a look at recommendations and guidelines pertaining to informality that have been adopted by the International Labour Organisation, and stresses the need to revise them.

There are several other Working Papers that are expected to be published in the following weeks. Stay tuned via our channels to access these publications. For any questions, you can contact Prof. Dr. Christoph Scherrer:

Centring Care Work: Debates, Strategies, and Policies for a Transformative Future

Care work encompasses all paid and unpaid work involved in caring for others. Caring occurs within homes, communities,  and both public and private institutions, with workers in each setting performing caregiving roles under vastly different conditions. Reflecting on its inherently gendered inequalities, academic feminists and activists have sought to conceptualise the relationship between patriarchy, capitalism and the social organisation of care. Following the growing demand for paid care labour in some countries, feminists have also shed light on the phenomenon of care imperialism, with growing streams of women emigrating to act as formal and informal caregivers in other countries’ hospitals, care homes, and families.

Cutting through these theoretical debates, there is a consensus on the societal importance of care, which constitutes the basis on which societies and economies, hence capitalism, are built. The COVID-19 pandemic further reinforced this consensus. Centring care work transcends mere economic considerations, representing a political determination of how societies organise their care systems, whether under public, private or mixed systems. It also encompasses issues such as workforce composition and working conditions.

Gender inequality is a pressing concern for the labour movement as it engages with the care economy, whose socially constructed subaltern character has historically underpinned the low wages caring jobs typically attract. Engaging these issues necessitates further exploration and action to address disparities and promote progressive visions for alternative ways to organise care provision, both within households and in the public sphere.

The Global Labour Column calls for contributions that analyse the various dimensions of care work, with a focus on activist struggles (including case studies of workers and care recipients organisations), theoretical debates and research findings. Contributions based on action research methods and concrete experiences of community-based organisations are highly welcome, as well as those exploring the relationship between these struggles and trade union mobilization.

Potential guiding questions are:

  1. How is care work conceptualised? What are the political implications of different definitions, such as “social reproduction work”, “care economy”, “purple economy”, and others? How do these inform different forms of social organisation of care?
  2. What is the vantage point of workers on care provision? What strategies do they employ to advocate for improved working conditions and rights? What relationship, if any, do they have with trade unions?
  3. What are the implications of the gendered character of caregiving professions for job quality and wages, particularly for women of different racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds?    
  4. What are the specific challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people, both as caregivers and care recipients? How do they collectively organise?
  5. How do these discussions on the politicization of care work intersect with arguments for just transition and environmental sustainability? What lessons can be learned from collective initiatives by care workers in this regard?     
  6. What reforms are needed, and what alternatives are being shaped at present in the wake of the pandemic?

Please submit your contribution by July 1, by sending it to GLC Editor:

Congratulations to Khaing Zar

Khaing Zar Aung, a GLU Alumna and President of the  Industrial Workers' Federation of Myanmar was awarded the Arthur Svensson Prize for trade Union Rights 2024.

The Prize commite awared “the courageous trade union leader Khaing Zar Aung from Myanmar”, wishing to “shine a spotlight on the resistance struggle against the military regime in Myanmar and the struggle for real democracy, including basic labour rights.”

Khaing Zar Aung is a former garment worker, who became active in the trade union movement when she worked as a migrant worker in Thailand. In exile, she worked on supporting other migrant workers and defending their rights.

When the democratic transition began, she returned to Myanmar and eventually became the head of the Industrial Workers' Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) and the largest trade union Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM), an organisation which was banned in Myanmar until 2012. Under her leadership, the union managed to organize the workers, mainly young women, in the textile industry which expanded rapidly as several international brands moved production there due to cheap labour.

After the military coup in 2021, Khaing was once again forced into exile, this time in Germany, where the Global Labour University helped her gain a new home, and introduced her to the “Labour Policies and Globalisation” MA programme. She has firmly acted as voice of the Myanmar trade union movement in Europe and globally.

She continues to fight the military junta in international bodies, mobilizing for international solidarity, putting pressure on international brands to withdraw from Myanmar, and has campaigned for the EU to withdraw trade preferences as long as the military junta is in power. Khain is a “symbol of all those who sacrifice all their time for a better society”.

Find out more via this link.

Edward Webster Passes Away

We are deeply saddened by the news of Professor Edward Webster passing away. Prof. Webster has left an immense legacy, influencing and inspiring generations of scholars, activists and workers around the globe. 

He was a dear friend and an invaluable ally of GLU and the International Centre for Development and Decent Work (ICDD) since their inception. Namely, he was the first Ela Bhatt Visiting Professor of ICDD at Kassel University in Germany from 2009 to 2010. Webster was also the founder and Chair of the Global Labour University at Wits and founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Global Labour Journal.

We extend our sincere condolences to Professor Webster’s family and friends during this difficult time. May he rest in peace. 

Wits University has organised a memorial on March 16, 2024, at the Great Hall of the University (Braamfontein Campus East). The memorial was held from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm, and was livestreamed for those looking to join online. 

 As part of commemorations, our partners at Wits also compiled a book of tributes for Prof Eddie’s family.

A Pivotal Moment for the Network

In 2024, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Global Labour University. This pivotal moment for the whole network will be commemorated with a series of events, such as the GLU reception at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva (March 27), and the GLU Symposium at the ILPC conference in Göttingen (April 3-5). 

In Geneva, students of the “Labour Policies and Globalisation” MA programme have attended a 2-day workshop with ACTRAV at the ILO headquarters.
They learned about the ILO supervisory mechanism, trade unions in transformation, labour rights in the platform economy, migrant workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining and much more.

The 42 ILPC Conference session has highlighted the importance of the moment the GLU network is in. It offered a glimpse into current labour struggles, GLU´s role in it, as well as what the future may look like.  You can find the live stream link here

The central event will be held in Germany, on April 30th, at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) premises in Berlin. Germany is where the GLU started in 2004, and where 20 generations of LPG students have earned their degrees. The discussion will revolve around the topics where the GLU network has made a significant contribution, especially by reinforcing the voices from the Global South. We will also examine the GLU’s contribution to the labour movement over the years. 

The main event will be accompanied by the Online Academy´s multiple-day workshop for the Global Team of Trainers and Tutors (GTTTs),  from April 29 to May 2, focused on the capacity building. The Academy is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, further elevating the importance of 2024 for GLU. Finally, many members of the GLU network will attend the May 1st demonstration activities as a group. 

The annual GLU Conference is planned for later in the year – September 25-27, 2024. It is set to be hosted at the partner institution, the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, India. This occasion will be a great opportunity to celebrate GLU internationally and deepen the discussion on topics at the core of what GLU foes and stands for. As part of the Conference, GLU has also issued a call for papers “Globalisation and Transition to an Egalitarian World: Resistance and Alternatives”.

Stay tuned for more information to come soon. 

Final application deadline is March 29

The Jawaharlal Nehru University and GLU are inviting applications from International Students for admission under the In-absentia category for Post Graduate programme for the Academic Year 2024-25. Interested Foreign National candidates may apply from their respective countries. There is a separate Application Form for them, which can be downloaded from the official website of the University.

The final application deadline is March 29, 2024.

The Master’s Programme in Development and Labour Studies is a full time two-year interdisciplinary course of 64 credits. The main objectives of the programme are to prepare students to get interdisciplinary training to do doctoral research on contemporary issues about labour and the informal sector. It provides an interdisciplinary perspective on the contemporary themes and issues on informality and labour drawing from the disciplines of history, economics, sociology and political science.

Application form direct link here

More info on the admission procedure here.



Call for Submissions Open

The submission window for the 2024 Elmar Altvater Prize is now open.

Applications are only accepted in electronic forms, to be sent before or at the very latest on March 31, 2024, to the following address:

The prize aims to encourage young scholars to continue the tradition of critical thought about the degradation and destruction of nature as the ‘price of progress’ that Professor Altvater represented so outstandingly. The prize is open to graduating thesis at the PhD level, with an award of 2,000€.

Applications are strongly encouraged from theses that adopt approaches that are inter-disciplinary, and that integrate economics with approaches from social and political sciences, and also from natural sciences, anthropology, geography, and history.

For any questions and further information write to

DAAD Prize Awarded to Yury Varlamov

GLU Mastar´s programme student Yury Varlamov has received the award of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for his outstanding academic achievements and the social commitment of international students. Prof. Dr. Anne Lisa Carstensen accepted the award in his stead, from Kassel University President Ute Clement. “Yury Varlamov is an excellent example of how excellent scientific work and sociopolitical commitment can go hand in hand,” argued Clement. 

Varlamov was involved in socio-political activities from a young age in Russia, with extensive experience in trade unions and in human rights. More recently, Varlamov was elected chairman of the youth committee of the Pan-European Regional Council (PERC) of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). In 2022, he left Russia in 2022 and enrolled in the master’s program in Labor Policies and Globalization, a joint degree program of the Global Labour University (GLU) and HWR Berlin.

The DAAD prize is awarded once a year to an international student or a doctoral candidate at the university. The award ceremony took place during the welcoming event for international students. 

Deadline for applications is closing soon

Candidates who wish to attend “Social Economy and Labour” master´s programme should make sure to submit their applications before the extended deadline of October 31, 2023. They can find more information about this Master’s programme, including application steps and form, on this page.

The Programme is taught at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in the state of São Paulo, Brazil.  The professors of the Institute of Economics and guest lecturers from other Brazilian universities and research institutes, as well as from the GLU partner universities. The students need to complete 36 course credits in 9 courses, and they will also be required to write a master’s thesis and complete a one-month internship (12 credits).

Call Open to Trade Unionists and Labour Activists Globally

The applications for the South Africa ENGAGE 2024 program “Union Rights, Policy and Practice: Training for Global Union Activists“ are officially open. The closing date is Friday, 20 December 2023. Courses are taught by experienced teaching staff from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and other guest lecturers.

ENGAGE helps labour activists and trade unionists to acquire additional knowledge and tools enabling them to take an active part in public debate and the process of policy formulation and implementation. The Certificate Course, made up of six modules, constitutes the core of the activities of ENGAGE. The participants will jointly develop strategies to enforce decent work conditions along cross-national chains of production and to regulate financial markets in a way that promotes fair globalisation and inclusive societies.

Participation of labour activists and trade unionists from Africa, Asia, South and North America and Europe makes the ENGAGE training programme a truly unique international experience that offers new opportunities for global networking.

The program is part of the Global Labour University (GLU) network that has successfully established academic study opportunities for labour activists from Africa, Asia, South and North America and Europe. It aims to strengthen the intellectual and strategic capacity of workers and their organisations and foster stronger working relationships among trade unions.

Please submit your completed application (including all documents) via email to Warren McGregor at:

For more information, please visit the website of our partners at:

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