Trade unions, agency (migrant) workers and the insiders/outsiders debate: Germany and Belgium compared
Valeria Pulignano, Centre for Sociological Research, KU Leuven
Wednesday, 14 June 2017, 1pm to 2pm
Seminar Room 1, Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB
This presentation addresses the questions of the extent to which, and the reasons for which, western European trade unions may have privileged the protection of ‘insiders’ over that of ‘outsiders’. Temporary agency workers, among whom migrant workers are over-represented, are taken as a test case of ‘outsiders’. The findings from a comparison of Belgian and German multinational plants show that collective agreements have allowed a protection gap between permanent and agency workers to emerge in Germany, but not in Belgium. However, the weaker protection in Germany depends less on an explicit union choice for insiders than on the weakening of the institutional environment for union representation and collective bargaining. The conclusion suggests that European unions are increasingly trying to defend the outsiders, but meet institutional obstacles that vary by country.