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National unions and transnational workers: the case of Olkiluoto 3, Finland


  • Nathan Lillie

    (University of Groningen, The Netherlands

  • Markku Sippola

    (University of Eastern Finland, FinlandÂ)


This article argues, through analysing industrial relations at the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant construction site in Finland, that national unionism is inappropriately structured for the transnational construction industry. Olkiluoto 3 is being built by a French/German consortium employing mostly posted migrants via transnational subcontractors from around Europe. Despite the strong Finnish unions, contractors successfully contested the right of Finnish actors to regulate the site, placing labour relations in a deregulated space between national systems. Although the posted migrants eventually self-organized, Finnish unions remained unresponsive, reluctant to act outside the normal Finnish social partnership industrial relations paradigm. The case illustrates how the nationally based structure of the labour movement is ill-suited to represent a pan-European labour force.

Suggested Citation

  • Nathan Lillie & Markku Sippola, 2011. "National unions and transnational workers: the case of Olkiluoto 3, Finland," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 25(2), pages 292-308, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:woemps:v:25:y:2011:i:2:p:292-308

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