Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Are workers with flexible contracts willing to go on strike

A recent study by Giedo Jansen a.o. used a survey among over 1,000 Dutch citizens to explore the relationship between labour contracts and willingness to strike. The study found that workers with flexible contracts are only slightly less inclined to go on strike than workers with permanent contracts (of course, as the authors note, willingness to go on strike is not the same as actually going on strike).

In their discussion of the findings, Jansen a.o. mention the crucial role union organisers may play in mobilizing non-standard workers. They point to a paper by Melanie Simms and Deborah Dean, who analysed successful mobilisations of teachers and performing artists with atypical contracts in the UK.

One of the respondents in their study emphasised the role of actors’ union Equity: “Equity made that very clear - we had to stick together as a team. That Equity couldn’t do anything, it was up to us.”

Dean and Simms discuss the role of organisers:
Part of this role involved redirecting employer arguments that reduncancies were inevitable due to external factors (reductions in funding, decline in box office receipts) to an argument that managerial choices were central.
In conclusion, they note that workers with insecure contracts may face specific barriers but that the means to overcome these barriers - through mobilisation and collectivisation - are not so different from what works in other situations.

Giedo Jansen, Agnes Akkerman and Kurt Vandaele (2014). Undermining mobilisation? The effect of job flexibility and job instability on the willingness to strike. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 1–19.
Melanie Simms and Deborah Dean, Mobilising contingent workers: An analysis of two successful cases. Accepted for publication in Economic and Industrial Democracy.


Vanessa Vaile said...

more precarious workers would read the referenced articles if they were not behind paywalls

Dirkk said...

Good point. Note that Vandaele posts many of his publications online without paywall: http://works.bepress.com/kurt_vandaele/