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Understanding the impact of scale on labour strategies using a five stage typology

Understanding the impact of scale on labour strategies using a five stage typology

Lethbridge, Jane ORCID: 0000-0002-0094-9967 (2009) Understanding the impact of scale on labour strategies using a five stage typology. In: Developing Theoretical Approaches in Labour Geography, 11-12 Jun 2009, Liverpool, UK. (Unpublished)

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Castree identified the need for labour geography to understand ‘transnational spheres of organising’. The increased focus on transnational solidarity provides an important framework for using scale to understanding different ways of organising (Wetlesen, 2008). This paper proposes to use a five part classification of labour responses to corporate globalisation to explore how scale influences labour organising. How and why workers organise at different scales of operation has implications for international solidarity. This paper will also explore some of the tensions between unions at national and international/ regional levels. Increasingly unions are pursuing multiple strategies of organising, for example, working with social movements as well as operating within formal social dialogue structures.

The five part classification of labour responses to corporate globalisation can be seen as a historically evolving continuum.

• 1. Multinational collective bargaining

Multinational collective bargaining was an important attempt to engage with multinational companies but has been sometimes undermined by the perspectives of trade unions, which remained national in focus. National trade unions need to develop coherent transnational strategies by sector.

• 2. Labour codes and codes of conduct

Voluntary codes of conduct were a response to some of the failures of governments and international agencies to implement labour standards. However, they would be more effective if governments played a more active role in implementation.

• 3. European/global workers councils and social dialogue

European/global workers councils are structures, within multinational companies, that enable workers and management to discuss issues of concern. The short comings of these arrangements are that they are often under-resourced and meetings are only annual events. They highlight some of the national pressures that trade union representatives experience in trying to operate transnationally.

• 4. New labour internationalism and community coalitions

The development of union- community coalitions draws in a wider range of groups into labour struggles but understanding different organisational cultures and ways of organising takes a long time. The main issue for the future is how to maintain and sustain long term coalitions, sometimes over long distances.

• 5. Organising marginalised workers – new forms of labour solidarity

Specific initiatives to organise marginalised workers may pose some challenges for existing trade unions but workers in both informal and formal sectors need to work together and widen the scope of labour constituencies geographically. The uneven development of capitalism creates problems in bringing workers together (Ghigliani 2005).

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: trade unions, strategies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Centre for Work and Employment Research (CREW) > Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU)
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Last Modified: 17 May 2019 14:00

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