Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Labour in the Era of Capitalist Globalization

Labour in the Era of Capitalist Globalization

Ratings: (0)|Views: 88|Likes:
Published by 1federal

More info:

Published by: 1federal on Mar 03, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as DOC, PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





Globalization includes rapid growth in imports, exports, and the share of trade in the world economy, and even more rapid growth in the international flows of foreign investment around the world. The term is also used to refer to the international convergence of rules,regulations, and even the social structure and role of government in many countries. This process is often viewed as a neo-liberal "race-to-the-bottom" in global working standards,wages, and working conditions. Economic competition, along with America’s tradeliberalization and European Union’s (EU) deepening economic integration and geographical expansion are challenging the role f he trade unions. New forms of work, companyrestructuring, welfare-state reforms and trade liberalization have weakened the systems of collective bargaining until now prevailing in most developed capitalist countries. A commontrend across the EU, Japan and the USA is towards consolidation and merger of unionorganizations. Union density is declining in Japan, the USA and almost all Europeancountries in recent years. Even where union membership losses have been stemmed,increasing employment levels in many countries have meant that union density has fallen.
The survival of restraints on neo-liberalism in most countries owes much to their institutionalization after the Second World War and to Europe’s divided past. The continuingexistence of a distinct ideological dimension associated with social integration, whichembraces commitments to social justice, fairness and class harmony, are present in all trade-union movements. Richard Hyman is right when he calls for greater sensitivity to thecomplexities of trade-union ideological dimensions, and to the pluralistic and contestedcharacter of European trade unionism (Hyman 1996). In the USA, the trade-union movementwas predominantly pragmatic and combined market orientations with social-integrationideologies. In Europe, unions are affiliated to political parties or they have contracted closeties to them, which helps them establishing neo-corporatist forms of interest intermediation.However, these forms of interest intermediation are challenged by economic and socialtransformations engendered by transnational capital and the ‘new economy’. Well-paidtechnicians, engineers, and designers became independent contractors. ‘Consultants’ andother ‘free agents’ are the ‘flexible workers’ par excellence, because they are escaping fromany collective agreements. With them emerged millions of 
contingent workers,
most of them parked into precarious small jobs, who are excluded from any pension packagesand other forms of job security. These
workers are forming an ever-growingworkforce submitted to ‘alternative arrangements’. Apart from the regular labour market, alarge permanent workforce of temporary employees, whereby free agents bid for jobs, israpidly growing. Are we returning to the old ‘sweating’ system of farming out work tocompeting contractors according to the nineteenth-century model? At any rate, labour historyis full of this kind of little boot-traps. For the time being, pre-industrial relics have emerged asnew tools in the hands of the post-industrial managers.
Beyond the ‘Dunlop model’
In 1997 there were 5,6 million workers with contingent jobs in the USA ((Ross 2000: 79).
Until the 1970s it was assumed that unionism adopting the ‘Dunlop model
’ would expand inall developed capitalist countries and that collective bargaining on an industry-wide basewould become the preferred method of setting wages, hours, and working conditions. This proved to be the case in the 1950s and 1960s in North America and Western Europe. But theeconomic slump of the 1970s and 1980s gave rise to a neo-liberal reaction, trade liberalizationand deregulation. This meant the end of the so-called ‘Dunlop model’ (Dunlop 1958) that prevailed in post-World War II.In Dunlop’s model, attention was also turning to other actors and their interactions, andconcluded with an explanation of the rules governing employment relationships that evolvedout of these interactions. According to Dunlop and his school (Kerr, Harbison, Dunlop, andMyers 1960), the logic of industrialization would lead to a convergence toward a common setof formal arrangements as capitalist mechanisms expand to all economic sectors. Therefore,the rise of industrial unionism and industry-wide bargaining has to be considered asinevitable. The merits and shortcomings of the Dunlop model were extensively discussed inlater works on American industrial relations (Kochan, Katz, and McKenzie 1986). In addition,Marxists (Davis 1980) and
(Goldfield 1987) argue that the functionalistDunlop model does not pay enough attention to the nature of American capitalism,international competition and the process of capitalist accumulation determining theentrepreneurial and trades-union strategies. Moreover, the rise of industrial unionism and thesubsequent industry-wide bargaining practices should be seen as a response of organizedlabour to monopoly capital and
hollowing out the very base of craft unionism after World War I, not as the outcome of a modernization process affecting governmental policiesand management strategies.The ‘Dunlop model’ was the outcome of a long history of class conflicts, sectoral strugglesand economic changes leading to the formation of a semi-skilled industrial working classconcentrated in large production units. In the history of industrial relations, three broad stagescan be discerned in the transition from craft unionism to industrial unionism and the rise of collective bargaining systems:
Task differentiation breaking down the craft into a series of simpler jobs with foremenstill knowing the entire production process and with a wage system based on piecerates;
Increasing capital requirements with the introduction of simple machines for sometasks in big workhouses and putting-out for some tasks still done by hand;
Large factories with power-driven machinery and the end of putting-out practices. Aslong as a retail or custom-order market existed local craftsmen could survive in their old manner, especially in local a luxury markets and defend the traditions of craftunionism during the first decades of monopoly capitalism (Hirsch 1978: 15-36).
According to Dunlop’s system model, analysis of industrial relations should begin by considering the variousenvironmental contexts that affect employment relationships economic forces, technology, and the broad political legal and social forces that determine the power of labour and management. Dunlop was on the NationalWear Labor Board and consulted with the Office of Economic Stabilization and the Office of War Mobilizationand Reconversion. After the war, Dunlop returned to Harvard. He served as Chairman of the NationalCommission on Productivity (1970-1975) and chairman of the Construction Industry Stabilization Committee(1971-1973). He was also director of Nixon’s Cost of Wage Council (1973-194) and Ford’s Secretary of Labor (1975-1976) until he resigned in a dispute over policy. He served Clinton as chairman of the Commission on theFuture of Worker-Management Relations (1993-1995).

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->