Cross Border Trade Union Collaboration in the Context of Competition and Arbitraging Labour in an Enlarged Europe

John Hardy, Ian Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

An enlarged Europe after the May 2004 and January 2007 accessions has provided more extensive territories over which firms and states can arbitrage labour costs and workers can seek employment. The main aim of the paper is firstly to present a political economy which sees migration and international production as part of wider processes of restructuring in general, and arbitraging labour costs in particular. Second, the paper explores the notion of organised labour as an important contester of process and outcomes of migration in relation to the example of Polish migrant workers in the UK. It is argued that three structural conditions underpin migration; uneven development within (and outside Europe); an intensification of competition and the drive towards flexibility. Further, capital is not footloose and migration has been used by countries such as Ireland and the UK to supply labour for a range of jobs in food processing, transport and other public services. States continually draw and redraw boundaries in line with the demands of domestic capital and labour markets, which creates hierarchies of migrant labour in terms of legal status and access to regulated work. It is argued that the ability of trade unions to intervene in labour markets to prevent social dumping and promote inclusion depends on; how far they adopt a policy of inclusion (rather than exclusion); the strength of trade unions in the receiver and sender countries; and the extent to which rhetorical exhortations for solidarity can be turned into concrete policies at different levels of trade union organisation and as well as across national boundaries.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2008
EventESRC Research Seminar Series Changing Cultures of Competitiveness - Manchester
Duration: 9 Jul 2008 → …

Other

OtherESRC Research Seminar Series Changing Cultures of Competitiveness
Period9/07/08 → …

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