The Making of Industrial Relations in Timor-Leste

03 January 2017

As a new nation, Timor-Leste offers a unique case where formal industrial relations mechanisms have been developed as part of a broader project of state formation. In other words, the transformation of employment relations in the formal sector has taken place as part of regime establishment rather than regime change, as has been the case in other post-authoritarian contexts in Southeast Asia. As this first account of industrial relations in Timor-Leste demonstrates, the state has been concerned first and foremost with encouraging sustainable forms of accumulation, and the employment opportunities that accompany them, rather than with regulating labour relations. Although it has responded to pressure from international organisations to establish what could have been best-practice industrial relations institutions in the country’s tiny formal sector, these efforts have foundered as a consequence of a failure to secure employer buy-in and weak enforcement.