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Article
Publication date: 16 May 2018

Valeria Pulignano, Domenico Carrieri and Lucio Baccaro

The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the developments which have characterized Italy’s industrial relations from post-war Fordism to neo-liberal hegemony and recent…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the developments which have characterized Italy’s industrial relations from post-war Fordism to neo-liberal hegemony and recent crisis, with a particular focus on the major changes occurred in the twenty-first century, especially those concerning concertative (tripartite) policy making between the government, the employers’ organizations and the trade unions.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is a conceptual paper which analysis of main development trends.

Findings

Italy’s industrial relations in the twenty-first century are characterized by ambivalent features which are the heritage of the past. These are summarized as follows: “collective autonomy” as a classical source of strength for trade unions and employers’ organization, on the one hand. On the other hand, a low level of legislative regulation and weak institutionalization, accompanied by little engagement in a generalized “participative-collaborative” model. Due to the instability in the socio-political setting in the twenty-first century, unions and employers encounter growing difficulties to affirm their common points of view and to build up stable institutions that could support cooperation between them. The result is a clear reversal of the assumptions that had formed the classical backdrop of the paradigm of Italy’s “political exchange.” This paradigm has long influenced the way in which the relationships between employers, trade unions and the state were conceived, especially during 1990s and, to some extent, during 2000s, that is the development of concertative (tripartite) policy making. However, since the end of 2000s, and particularly from 2010s onwards national governments have stated their intention to act independently of the choices made by the unions (and partially the employers). The outcome is the eclipse of concertation. The paper explores how the relationships among the main institutional actors such as the trade unions (and among the unions themselves), the employers, and the state and how politics have evolved, within a dynamic socio-political and economic context. These are the essential factors needed to understand Italy’s industrial relations in the twenty-first century.

Originality/value

It shows that understanding the relationship among the main institutional actors such as the trade unions (and among the unions themselves), the employers and the state and their politics is essential to understand the change occurred in contemporary Italy’s industrial relations.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 40 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 19 June 2011

Lucio Baccaro

Purpose – Ascertaining the extent to which the generalized decline in union density, as well as the erosion in centralized bargaining structures and developments in other…

Abstract

Purpose – Ascertaining the extent to which the generalized decline in union density, as well as the erosion in centralized bargaining structures and developments in other labor institutions, have contributed to rising within-country inequality.

Methodology – Econometric analysis of a newly developed dataset combining information on industrial relations and labor law, various dimensions of globalization, and controls for demand and supply of skilled labor for 51 Advanced, Central and Eastern European, Latin American, and Asian countries from the late 1980s to the early 2000s, followed by an analysis of 16 advanced countries over a longer time frame (from the late 1970s to the early 2000s).

Findings – In contrast to previous research, which finds labor institutions to be important determinants of more egalitarian wage or income distributions, the chapter finds that trade unionism and collective bargaining are no longer significantly associated with within-country inequality, except in the Central and Eastern European countries. These findings are interpreted as the result of trade unionism operating under more stringent structural constraints than in the past, partly as a result of globalization trends. In addition, despite much talk about welfare state crisis, welfare states, historically the result of labor's power and mobilization capacity, still play an important redistributive role, at least in advanced countries.

Practical implications – Union attempts at equalizing incomes by compressing market earnings seem ineffective and impractical in the current day and age. Unions should seek to increase the workers’ skill levels and promote an egalitarian transformation of the workplace. This type of “supply-side” egalitarianism is not a new strategy for unions, but is very much embedded in the unions’ DNA.

Details

Comparing European Workers Part B: Policies and Institutions
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-931-9

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Book part
Publication date: 19 June 2011

Abstract

Details

Comparing European Workers Part B: Policies and Institutions
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-931-9

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Article
Publication date: 15 August 2008

Jane Parker

The purpose of this paper is to examine why and how the Trades Union Congress (TUC) – the labour movement's peak body, “think tank” and exemplar – engages in alliance…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine why and how the Trades Union Congress (TUC) – the labour movement's peak body, “think tank” and exemplar – engages in alliance building with civil movements and groups. In particular, it investigates: the rationale for such; the nature of the alliances and the extent to which they inform TUC revival efforts or a new approach to trade unionism.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with eight senior TUC personnel. Most interviewees provided documentary evidence to elaborate on their comments. The dimensions of a thematic analysis of this and web site evidence were structured to reflect the above areas of inquiry.

Findings

The findings are that: interest in the TUC and labour movement in alliance building with civil groups is building at all levels; TUC engagement with, promotion of and guidance on civil alliances is largely emergent and sporadic; notwithstanding this, certain parts of the TUC have increased its promotion of and to a lesser extent direct engagement with alliances. It also is shown that: such engagement looks likely to continue to grow as a feature of other revival strategies and there is little assessment of whether alliance building can help strengthen the British labour movement.

Practical implications

The findings inform the paper's discussion of potential TUC and union revival purpose, policy and practice.

Originality/value

This paper provides an in‐depth empirical study of the TUC's involvement in alliance building with other social movements and groups. Policy‐maker and practitioner interest in such is growing rapidly, particularly in light of the debatable effectiveness of familiar British union revival strategies.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 30 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 19 June 2011

Sanjay Pinto and Jason Beckfield

Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to show how patterns of union organization vary over time and across countries in the economically advanced world, with a focus on…

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to show how patterns of union organization vary over time and across countries in the economically advanced world, with a focus on Europe.

Methodology/approach – The data analysis uses the “Institutional Characteristics of Trade Unions, Wage Setting, State Intervention and Social Pacts” dataset to report on patterns of union density in 16 economically advanced countries between 1960 and 2006 and draws on the European Social Survey to show how union membership is segmented by gender, educational attainment and economic sector in 13 European economically advanced countries during the 2000s.

Findings – The chapter demonstrates more clearly than in previous work that trends of decline in union density cut across national varieties of capitalism; on average, the trends look quite similar in Anglo-American liberal countries and the coordinated countries of Continental Europe. On the other hand, cross-national differences are still important, as evident in the fact that the Nordic countries have not experienced substantial declines.

Originality/value – Current work in political economy is marked by a dividing line between those who see change over time or cross-country differences as the primary axis of variation in contemporary capitalism. Some focus on differences between periods of embedded liberalism and neoliberalism, while others key on distinctions between liberal and coordinated national models. This chapter advocates an integrated approach that captures more fully the ways in which forms of organization in different institutional domains vary across both time and space.

Details

Comparing European Workers Part B: Policies and Institutions
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-931-9

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 February 2018

Holm-Detlev Köhler and Sergio González Begega

This paper aims to examine the reaction of a local workforce to global restructuring in a transnational company (TNC), which entailed the closure of a manufacturing plant …

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the reaction of a local workforce to global restructuring in a transnational company (TNC), which entailed the closure of a manufacturing plant (La Monroe) in Northern Spain. The article explores the micro-political nature of the corporate decision to close the plant, the workforce reaction to relocation and the discourse legitimizing global restructuring. It also delves into the contra-hegemonic potential of labour as a main stakeholder in TNCs.

Design/methodology/approach

The methodological approach is qualitative. The article presents a theoretically informed and analytical case study based on the literature on micro-politics and power relations in TNCs. Fieldwork is based on semi-structured interviews carried out with relevant stakeholders and other external actors to the TNC.

Findings

The findings substantiate the dynamic role of micro-politics within TNCs. The article presents and discusses evidence of the formation of a broad multi-level political network of resistance to a plant closure plan.

Research limitations/implications

More case study analysis would further support the findings in the paper and provide for a comparative approach.

Originality/value

The article substantiates the dynamic role of micro-politics and power relations in the reification of social norms and discourses on production relocation. It offers an empirical appraisal of the micro-political approach to global restructuring in TNCs. The article also puts labour strategies at the forefront of the analysis in corporate relocation.

Details

critical perspectives on international business, vol. 14 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1742-2043

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Article
Publication date: 16 May 2018

Holm-Detlev Köhler

The purpose of this paper is to reconstruct the development of industrial relations (IR) in Spain since the democratic transition and analyses the current dilemmas of its…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reconstruct the development of industrial relations (IR) in Spain since the democratic transition and analyses the current dilemmas of its social and political actors in the context of the long-lasting economic downturn.

Design/methodology/approach

Combining a political economy, identifying Spain as a particular variety of modern capitalism, and actor-centred historical institutionalism approach, outlining the formation and strategies of the main social actors, the paper draws on the broad range of research on IR in Spain and its theoretical debates, including proper research in the field.

Findings

The legacies of the latecomer industrialisation and the semi-peripheral development model still shape the Spanish economy and IR. The impact of the current economic and political-institutional crisis affects the entire institutional IR system and its actors shifting power towards the individual employer thus weakening trade unions, labour rights and collective bargaining. Regarding the theoretical debate on corporatism, the Spanish case provides ambiguous results. The lack of a coherent institutional system and efficient political administration limits the effectiveness of corporatist arrangements and reduces them to contingent concertation strategies. Spain confirms that IR still largely depend on the specific national variety of capitalism that condition economic development and resources for political exchange.

Originality/value

The paper presents an original, theoretical-informed reconstruction of the Spanish IR and allows an understanding of the current institutional transformations and strategic dilemmas in the light of historical legacies. Additionally, the theoretical debates on neo-corporatism and semi-peripheral development are enriched through its application to the Spanish case.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 40 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

Content available

Abstract

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 40 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 3 April 2017

Martí López Andreu

The purpose of this paper is to explore the effects of changes in employment regulation in Spain on individual labour market trajectories. It is well known that the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the effects of changes in employment regulation in Spain on individual labour market trajectories. It is well known that the Spanish labour market has been strongly hit by the 2007 recession. Furthermore, after 2010 and in the benchmark of “austerity”, several reforms were implemented to further flexibilise employment regulation. At the same time, public sector budgets suffered severe cutbacks, that impacted working conditions and prospects of public sector workers. These reforms were implemented by different governments and substantially changed previous existing patterns of employment. This paper explains how these reforms have reinforced previous existing trends towards greater flexibility and weaker employment protection and how they lead to a shift in the position of work in society.

Design/methodology/approach

The emerging patterns that these changes provoked are illustrated thorough data from narrative biographies of workers affected by a job loss or a downgrading of working conditions. The workers of the sample had relatively stable positions and careers and were affected by changes that substantially modified their paths.

Findings

The paper shows how reforms have expanded work and employment insecurities and have broken career paths. It demonstrates how the reforms have weakened the position of work and organised labour in society and how, when institutional supports are jeopardised, the capacity to plan and act is harassed by the traditional social inequalities.

Originality/value

The paper enhances the knowledge about the impact of institutional changes by analysing their effects in individual working lives by means of narrative biographies.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 39 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 23 May 2018

Sergio González Begega and Mona Aranea

The purpose of this paper is to examine European Union (EU) industrial relations in their development over time. It describes and analyzes their main constituent parts…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine European Union (EU) industrial relations in their development over time. It describes and analyzes their main constituent parts, which are deployed along four interlinked institutional dimensions: tripartite concertation; cross-industry social dialogue; sectoral social dialogue; and employee representation and negotiation at the transnational company level. The focus lies strictly on the emerging EU layer of industrial relations, which is common to the different Member States and not on comparative European industrial relations.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is conceptual in nature. It considers the differences and mutually interdependent legal and political processes, policies and institutions between EU industrial relations and national industrial relations.

Findings

The findings substantiate that EU industrial relations constitute an incomplete but perfectly traceable transnational reality distinct from industrial relations in the Member States. EU industrial relations are not to supersede but to supplement national industrial relations. Neither the EU institutional framework nor the European social partners have the mandate, legitimation or desire to perform a more ambitious role.

Research limitations/implications

More empirically oriented research would further support the findings in the paper.

Originality/value

The paper presents a conceptual review based on a comprehensive and critical reading of the literature on EU industrial relations. It also puts labor strategies at the forefront of the analysis in corporate relocation.

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