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ESRC Seminar Series ‘Beyond Labour Regulation’
Constructing Research Agendas

Monday January 16th 2012, The Boardroom, College Building, Middlesex University, Hendon, London NW4 4BT, 10am to 5 pm

This ESRC Seminar Series hosted by Middlesex University has brought together academics and practitioners to examine changing global regulation of labour standards. The seminars were organised by a team at Middlesex University including Professor Martin Upchurch, Professor Richard Croucher, Elizabeth Cotton and Professor Joshua Castellino. Professor Miguel Martinez Lucio Manchester University) and Dr. Conor Cradden (University of  Geneva) helped with organisation at the Liverpool and Geneva seminars respectively. Our first seminar took place at Middlesex University, London in January 2010 and examined the problems of Contract and Agency labour.

Participants included academics, practitioners from General Union Federations, and activists within global supply chains. The second seminar, on Migration and Labour Regulation, was held in the Liverpool in the International Slavery Museum in September 2010. Speakers included representatives of major institutions concerned with migration and migrant workers, migrant worker groups, and academics. Case studies were presented of problems facing migrant workers from across the world. The third seminar was on the problems of labour regulation caused by Private Equity, and was held in June 2011 at the Universityof Geneva. Our final seminar will be held at Middlesex University, London on January 16th 2012, and will attempt to bring together previous seminar participants and others interested in collaborating with new research to explore further areas of ‘beyond labour regulation’.

Research Agendas Seminar: Monday January 16th, 2012
‘What We Should be Researching and Why’

Panel Discussion led by

Miguel Martinez Lucio (Professor of International HRM at Manchester University), and co-editor with Luis Enrique Alonso of Employment Relations in a Changing Society, Palgrave, 2006.

Kevin Doogan (Professor of European Policy Studies at the University of Bristol), and author of New Capitalism, The Transformation of Work?, Wiley, 2009

Julie Froud (Professor of Financial Innovation at Manchester University) and co-author of Financialization at Work, Routledge, 2008

Joshua Castellino (Professor of Law at Middlesex University) and co-author of Minority Rights in Asia, OUP, 2006

Sonia McKay (Professor of European Socio-Legal Studies at London Metroolitan University) and author of Refugees, recent migrants and employment: challenging barriers and exploring path ways, Routledge, 2008

Plus Practitioner Forum, with invited speakers from NGOs, trade unions, and policy organisations in the field of global labour regulation.
If you are interested in attending the seminar, please contact Professor Martin Upchurch ( or the Seminar Series administrator Denise Arden (

There is no registration fee, refreshments for the all day seminar will be provided, but please book places in advance:

Martin Upchurch
Professor of International Employment Relations
Middlesex University Business School
The Burroughs
London NW4 4BT
07545 487952<>
Global Work and Employment Project (GWEp)

Globalisation and Work Facebook Group:



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Call for Papers
Private Equity, Corporate Turbulence and Labour Regulation

ESRC/Middlesex University One Day Workshop
Monday June 13th  2011, University of Geneva, Switzerland

Concerns over the role of private equity in shaping corporate behaviour were already apparent in the years immediately preceding the Great Financial Crash of 2008. In 2006 alone buy-outs of businesses by private equity organisations amounted to US$ 725bn. – equivalent to the economies of Argentina, Poland and South Africa combined. One quarter of all takeovers before the financial crash were financed by such private equity.

Major household names, such as Nabisco, Carrefour, Gate Gourmet and EMI have already fallen to such venture capital. Private equity finance depends on leverage, or the ability to borrow money to raise more finance. There is thus a dependence on debt, which enormously increases the risk of such investment. Up until the financial crash such risky ventures produced huge returns for the financiers, but after the crash such debt led to huge losses. Harvard University, for example, lost millions of dollars from its funds after it had mistakenly switched to private equity investment as an alternative to stocks and bonds. The result was lay-offs and redundancies of workers to cover the cost, a pattern of events being repeated elsewhere for workers whose employing organisation is dependent on debt finance.

Such ‘short-termism’ appears built in to the private equity model, as the financiers seek immediate gains from their investments at the cost of longer term corporate stability. Employees and their unions are faced with continuous episodes of restructuring as corporations are treated as ‘bundles of assets’ and plants are sold off to make profits or avoid losses. Productive investment in a company becomes less likely, as it is an additional cost to the remote owners. Workers suffer from increased job insecurity as off-shoring and contracting-out is encouraged, while industrial relations and collective bargaining becomes a casualty of corporate instability and ‘invisible’ employers.

This seminar will discuss and debate the continuing problems of private equity finance and corporate turbulence by bringing together academics and practitioners from trade unions, government bodies, employers and NGOs to discuss policy initiatives. The seminar is convened by Middlesex University, London and funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council. It is part of a series of seminars examining global labour regulation in the international economy. Previous seminars reviewed problems arising from the increasing use of contract and agency labour, and migrant workers.

Overview speakers include:

Professor John Grahl (Middlesex University) on Restructuring under the Rule of the Capital Markets: the case of private equity? and
Professor Geoff Wood (Sheffield University), Professor Marc Goergen (Cardiff University) and Professor Noel O’Sullivan (University of Sheffield) with a data presentation on The Employment Consequences of Private Equity Acquisitions: The Case of Institutional Buy-Outs.

Plus speakers from International Trade Union Federations on the trade union response.

If you wish to contribute a paper to this seminar, or wish to attend as a delegate please contact below. We are particularly keen to hear case study presentations on labour-related problems flowing from private equity and institutional buy-outs. Some financial assistance may be available for selected presenters to cover costs of travel and accommodation.

For more information, and registration at the Seminar, please contact Professor Martin Upchurch, Middlesex University, London, UK: or Denise Arden

Further information on the seminar series can be found at Beyond Labour Regulation blog:

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