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Spain is a periphery Eurozone country and its labour movement is one which is unevenly developed. After the launch of EMU, Spanish unit labour costs (ULCs) escalated; this led to a loss of competitiveness within EMU (Johnston, 2016). Owing to the existence of inter-sectoral agreements in which unions attempt to establish competitiveness, the case of Spain raises the question of the extent to which efforts to achieve moderation are feasible in a periphery country. The failure of this strategy not only points to further constraints on the ability of actors to plan competitiveness, but also demonstrates the importance of structural influences; in this case, inefficiencies associated with lower-level bargaining institutions were crucial. Following the outbreak of crisis, the question was raised of the ability of periphery labour movements to marshal pan-European opposition. Though Spanish unions were at the vanguard of attempts to organize European protests and general strikes were held in Spain on European days of action, the mobilization capacity of unions was constrained by their under-Europeanized profile. The earlier implementation of austerity measures by a Socialist Government also restricted the extent of social-democratic opposition, both domestically and at European-level.

European labour movements in crisis

From indecision to indifference

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