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From indecision to indifference
Author: Thomas Prosser

European labour movements in crisis contends that labour movements respond to European integration in a manner which instigates competition between national labour markets. This argument is based on analysis of four countries (Germany, Spain, France and Poland) and two processes: the collective bargaining practices of trade unions in the first decade of the Eurozone and the response of trade unions and social-democratic parties to austerity in Southern Europe. In the first process, although unions did not intentionally compete, there was a drift towards zero-sum outcomes which benefited national workforces in stronger structural positions. In the second process, during which a crisis resulting from the earlier actions of labour occurred, lack of solidarity reinforced effects of competition.

Such processes are indicative of relations between national labour movements which are rooted in competition, even if causal mechanisms are somewhat indirect. The book moreover engages with debates concerning the dualization of labour markets, arguing that substantive outcomes demonstrate the existence of a European insider–outsider division. Findings also confirm the salience of intergovernmentalist analyses of integration and point to a relationship between labour sectionalism and European disintegration.

Thomas Prosser

-imposed austerity, in turn point to the ruinous effects of reforms demanded by the core. The dispute continues to threaten a break-up of the EU. Not only do certain periphery countries remain close to exit from the Eurozone, but the genie of nationalist-populism, unbottled by the tensions of crisis, threatens to tear the EU apart from below. In this book, I contend that this malaise can partly be located in the response of labour movements to integration. Rather than cooperating with European counterparts so as to maximize joint outcomes, movements rely

in European labour movements in crisis
Thomas Prosser

If I am to theorize the terms in which labour movements react to European integration, it is vital to develop a research design suitable for this task. This endeavour is undertaken in this chapter. I begin by outlining my general approach and conceptualization of labour movements. It is contended that a framework rooted in the discipline of political economy is most appropriate, given that this tradition is particularly concerned with explaining long-term socio-economic outcomes and the role of actors in such processes. A definition of

in European labour movements in crisis
Thomas Prosser

In this chapter, I move towards a new theory of the manner in which labour movements respond to European integration. I contend that, rather than being based on cooperation, the behaviour of labour tends to facilitate competition between national regimes. Owing to the nationally embedded nature of labour movements, which is itself in the interests of certain workers, bargaining processes tend to lead to an unplanned yet incremental drift towards zero-sum outcomes which benefit national workforces in stronger structural positions

in European labour movements in crisis
Thomas Prosser

Challenges currently facing European labour movements are novel, yet a rich literature bears witness to the historic manner in which labour has responded to European integration. In this chapter, so as to root later analysis in relevant debates, I conduct an in-depth survey of this literature. I commence with an examination of historic attempts by labour to respond to European integration. Though prominent political economists writing after the Maastricht Treaty emphasized processes of competition (Rhodes, 1998a ; Scharpf, 1999

in European labour movements in crisis
Thomas Prosser

Having outlined a new approach to the manner in which labour movements respond to European integration, the task of conceptualizing the relationship between the behaviour of labour movements and theories of integration remains. This chapter commences with a theorization of the role of labour in the integration process. Rather than facilitating Europeanization, as certain theories predict, I contend that relations among separate labour movements are more compatible with intergovernmentalist readings of integration. Though neofunctionalism was

in European labour movements in crisis
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Going under
Thomas Prosser

incremental rises in ULCs and the onset of recession in 2008/9. The outbreak of crisis raised the question of the ability of periphery labour movements to marshal pan-European opposition. Though Spanish unions were at the vanguard of attempts to organize European resistance, these efforts met with limited success; this was primarily the result of reasons external to Spain, yet also reflected the low priority that Spanish unions traditionally placed on cooperation with European sister movements. Nor were Spanish social democrats able to forge

in European labour movements in crisis
Thomas Prosser

Having evaluated processes which took place in the four national cases, it is now incumbent upon me to answer research questions set out at the start of this book. My chief concern in this work is the manner in which labour movements react to European integration, yet to answer this question it is necessary to examine changes to investigated substantive outcomes: levels of unemployment and employment security. Difference in conditions between countries is a possible ‘smoking gun’; it potentially illustrates the drivers and consequences

in European labour movements in crisis
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Splendid isolation?
Thomas Prosser

. Had Poland adopted the euro and failed to achieve competitiveness within the zone, the Polish labour movement would have faced the challenge of constructing coalitions to contest austerity; this was the task which confronted southern European counterparts after the outbreak of crisis. It is likely that Polish labour would also have struggled with this endeavour. Not only is union density low in Poland, but the extent to which industrial relations structures are Europeanized is limited. Given the fate to which labour movements in periphery countries succumbed, one

in European labour movements in crisis
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Accidental neomercantilism, questionable Solidarity?
Thomas Prosser

, to be of more than symbolic importance. Debates about the influence of German ULCs on the later Eurozone crisis are well-rehearsed. My interests in this book are distinct, concerning the extent to which labour movements compete and/or cooperate rather than their role in instigating the crisis, and in the German case this necessitates consideration of the degree to which German labour consciously aimed at wage moderation. Before this can be addressed, it is necessary to set out perspectives on the role of German ULCs in causing the

in European labour movements in crisis