The chapter reviews shifts to global capitalism, the rise of non-standard
employment relationships and the prevalence of work precarity for many
people, including flexibility, work in the gig economy and the rise of new
technologies shaping the future of work
The book is about the changing nature of work and employment relations power. It
is directed at those who are activists or supporters of goals for a better and
more equitable working life, including students, policy makers, trade unionists
and CSO/NGO activists. The book engages with competing debates and perspectives
about labour agency, examining inter alia the power of the nation state, issues
of bogus self-employment and the gig economy, and the inequalities from market
reform and globalisation. The book supports a range of modes of student
learning, including courses for trade union and community groups. Its contents
cover the employment contract, the power of the state, technology and work,
globalisation, employee voice and union mobilisation, worker voices beyond the
workplace, the future of work and the goals towards a ‘decent’ work agenda.
Chapter 3 unpicks the regulatory context of worker voice and influence. It
analyses how the general nature and role of the state has changed and
continues to evolve; the influence of policy positions and legal
intervention on employment relations; and institutional responses to gender
inequality and labour migration. It contends that the world of work and
employment has been decollectivised by bogus self-employment and
individualised employment rights.
Chapter 4 debates the decline in worker voice. It reviews different forms of
voice: ‘institutional’ (e.g. works councils); ‘union participation’;
‘collective bargaining’; ‘non-union voice’; and ‘external actors’ (e.g.
civil society groups and associations). It argues that while employee voices
are increasingly fragmented and fractured, there are shades of light and
hope in terms of new forms of creative labour mobilising and social
Chapter 5 reviews the previous debates and comments on the scale and extent
of fragmentation of work and employment conditions, regulations and
diminished power sources. It then charts three broad future vistas,
connecting to political trajectories and a reinvigorated role for the state
and agents shaping power at work and the importance of people first in
future policy debates.
Chapter 1 introduces the key ideas, themes and perspectives underpinning the
book. Important concepts and frameworks of power associated with changes in
work and employment are introduced; and the ‘work and employment studies’
approach adopted in the book is explained. The core content of the book is
also outlined and mapped against six shifting dimensions shaping labour
agency in the workplace.