2022 ISA RC44 Asia-Pacific Conference

Theme: Labour Movements in a Post COVID-19 World
The International Sociological Association (ISA)’s Research Committee on Labour Movements (RC44) is running an Asia-Pacific regional conference on 27 June 2022 on the theme of Labour Movements in a Post COVID-19 World.

Dates: 27 June 2022
Venue: Online via Zoom

Download the program here.

View the program and register by 27 June 2022.

About the Conference

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the risks inherent in precarious and gig economy work, inequalities in access to care, the need for worker voice in creating safe workplaces, the fragility of global production networks and the urgent political demand for the state to ensure social protection. These crises have unsettled established political and economic relations and, for labour movements, given rise to urgent demands for the protection of the health, income and employment security of workers and their democratic rights both in and beyond the workplace. For some movements the crises also are a moment to envisage alternative social and economic models and a required transformation to a more equitable and low carbon economy.

This Asia-Pacific Conference of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on Labour Movements provides an opportunity for scholars, based both within and outside the region, to consider the agency and potential of workers and their labour movements to shape and make a post COVID-19 world. In particular we look forward to presentations addressing the following broad themes:

  • changing labour regimes;
  • worker representation in a post-pandemic world;
  • trade unions and climate change; 
  • union responses to migrant labour in a time of COVID; 
  • organising in the platform economy; 
  • organising in supply chains; 
  • labour movements under authoritarianism; 
  • and international labour actors in the Asia-Pacific.


Further information

  • Call for Papers opens: 23 August 2021
  • Call for Papers closes: 10 December 2021
  • Notification of acceptance: 15 December 2021
  • Registrations open: 15 December 2021
  • Deadline for confirmation of acceptance: 31 January 2022
  • Deadline for speaker registration: 31 January 2022
  • Deadline to submit video: 30 April 2022
  • Deadline for non-speaker registration: 27 June 2022
  • Conference: 27 June 2022


The conference will be held virtually in a 4-hour timeslot each day that accommodates participants from across the region. Talks will be recorded and made available in an online repository, with short recaps and plenty of discussion during parallel panel slots. In addition, the program will feature daily plenaries where two practitioners join a moderator in conversation.

The Call for Papers is now closed.

  • Individual paper abstracts:

When submitting your abstract, you will need to provide a 150-word abstract and assign your abstract to one of the conference streams. This helps our reviewing process and helps your paper be grouped with similar papers.

You can also specify if the paper has any co-authors, or if it is part of an existing panel. If it is part of an existing panel, you will be required to specify the panel title and panel convenor.

  • Panel proposals:

When proposing a panel, you will need to:

- provide a 150-word abstract for your overall panel;

- assign your panel to one of the conference streams;

- provide details of the panel convenor;

- identify all the panel presenters and provide their full names and paper titles.

 As a panel convenor, you are also welcome to submit all the individual paper abstracts in your panel on behalf of the speakers - please note this is not compulsory as panel speakers can submit their individual papers separately and specify their panel.

Panels must have at least 3 individual papers to be considered, and up to 4 individual papers.

We invite paper and panel proposals on any topic related to the conference theme, and in particular on the following:

  • Changing labour regimes
  • Worker representation in a post-pandemic world
  • Union responses to migrant labour in a time of COVID
  • Organising in the platform economy
  • Organising in supply chains
  • Labour movements under authoritarianism
  • International labour actors in the Asia-Pacific
  • Trade unions and climate change

Conference Organising Committee

Tom Barnes is an economic sociologist at Australian Catholic University (ACU) in Sydney. His research primarily focuses on precarious work. He is currently researching global warehouse logistics and automotive manufacturing. He has expertise on work and economic development in India, having written two books in this area: Informal Labour in Urban India (Routledge, 2015) and Making Cars in the New India: Industry, Precarity and Informality (Cambridge University Press, 2018). His articles have appeared in several journals including Urban Studies, Journal of Development Studies and Critical Sociology

Michele Ford is President of RC44 and Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre at the University of Sydney, where she researches labour internationalism and labour activism. Her books include Workers and Intellectuals: NGOs, Trade Unions and the Indonesian Labour Movement (NUS/Hawaii/KITLV 2009), From Migrant to Worker: Global Unions and Temporary Labor Migration in Asia (Cornell 2019) and Labor and Politics in Indonesia (Cambridge 2020, with Teri Caraway). Her most recent research project, with Dr Kristy Ward, APHEDA, BWI and the Solidarity Center, examines the international labour movement’s efforts to reduce gender-based violence in Cambodia’s construction sector.

Michael Gillan is an Associate Professor at the UWA Business School at the University of Western Australia. His current research interests encompass global union federations; transnational labour regulation; and state governance and labour movements in Asia. He is currently engaged in a multi-year Australian Research Council Discovery Grant project on Global Production Networks and worker representation in Myanmar.

Chun-Yi Lee is Associate Professor at the School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham. She is also the director of Taiwan Studies Program at Nottingham, a board member of European Association of Taiwan Studies. Chun-Yi's first book was published by Routledge in 2011: Taiwanese Business or Chinese Security Asset. The book is under Leiden Series in Modern East Asia History and Politics. Currently, Chun-yi is working on a public policy research project, to compare Taiwan and UK government's strategies to counter Covid-19. Meanwhile Chun-yi is working her second single authored monograph on the topic of 'Army of workers: China in the Global Political Economy'. 


Ernesto Noronha is Professor of Organizational Behaviour at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, India. His research interests include workplace dignity, employment relations and globalization, diversity at work, technology and work, workplace bullying. Ernesto has published in peer-reviewed international journals such as Journal of Business Ethics, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Journal of Contemporary Asia and International Journal of Human Resource Management. He is the Chief Co-Editor of the Handbooks of Workplace Bullying, Emotional Abuse and Harassment, Volumes 1-4 (Springer, 2021). Ernesto has been a visiting professor at the Industrial and Labour Relations (ILR) School, Cornell University, and at the Institute for Sociology, University of Vienna, as well as a visiting scholar at various European and Australian universities. He is currently the section co-editor of Labour Relations and Business Ethics at the Journal of Business Ethics. 

Melisa R. Serrano is Professor at the School of Labor and Industrial Relations of the University of the Philippines. Her research focuses on comparative industrial relations in Southeast Asia, trade unions and non-standard forms of employment, collective representation of workers in informal employment, union renewal, gender equality in trade unions, and the intersection between wages, productivity, and collective bargaining (in the Philippines). Aside from receiving research grants from her university, many of Melisa’s research projects have been funded by the ILO, global union federations, international trade union support organizations, and several trade unions in Asia and Europe.

Kristy Ward is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre at the University of Sydney. Her research focuses on labour movements in Southeast Asia with a particular focus on their gendered and political dimensions. Kristy’s research encompasses broader questions about politics of representation in civil society organisations. Her most recent research project, with Professor Ford, Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, the Building and Woodworkers’ International and the Solidarity Center, and funded by the Australian Research Council, examines the international labour movement’s efforts to reduce workplace gender-based violence in Cambodia’s construction sector. 

Photo credit: hendrikMINTARNO via Flickr