European labour movements in crisis

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.

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