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Inclusive unions in a dualised labour market? The challenge of organising labour market policy and social protection for labour market outsiders


  • Niccolo Durazzi


Dynamics of labour market dualisation have affected most Western European countries over the last two decades and trade unions have been often seen as conservative institutions protecting the interests of their core constituencies and as such contributing to labour market dualisation. However, empirical evidence from Italy shows that unions’ stance towards atypical workers has been more inclusive than the literature expected, despite the conditions for pro-insider policies being firmly in place, and unions have emerged as important actors in the organisation of social protection for labour market outsiders. By analysing unions’ strategies towards temporary agency workers in Italy through a disaggregated approach (i.e. focussing separately on salary and job protection; active labour market policies; and income protection), I reconcile the empirical observations that conflict with the theoretical expectations. I argue that unions have indeed put in place inclusive, yet selective, policies towards atypical workers and that unions’ identity is a central explanatory variable to understand the puzzling coexistence of a dualised labour market and (selectively) inclusive unions. Through a disaggregated identity-bound analysis of unions’ strategies, I shed new light on the complex relationship between labour market dualisation and the dualisation of social protection. In particular, findings suggest that paradoxically unions’ strategies to counteract labour market dualisation may be furthering the insider-outsider divide in terms of social protection. I also suggest that a clearer analytical distinction between labour market dualisation and welfare dualisation is needed in future research and that the understanding of unions’ strategies towards marginal workers would greatly benefit from a systematic disaggregated analysis of unions’ agency.

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  • Niccolo Durazzi, 2015. "Inclusive unions in a dualised labour market? The challenge of organising labour market policy and social protection for labour market outsiders," LEQS – LSE 'Europe in Question' Discussion Paper Series 99, European Institute, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:eiq:eileqs:99

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    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:99:y:2005:i:01:p:61-74_05 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Edmund Heery, 2009. "Trade unions and contingent labour: scale and method," Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, Cambridge Political Economy Society, vol. 2(3), pages 429-442.
    3. Assar Lindbeck & Dennis J. Snower, 2001. "Insiders versus Outsiders," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 165-188, Winter.
    4. Rueda, David, 2006. "Social Democracy and Active Labour-Market Policies: Insiders, Outsiders and the Politics of Employment Promotion," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 36(03), pages 385-406, July.
    5. Eichhorst, Werner & Marx, Paul, 2010. "Whatever Works: Dualisation and the Service Economy in Bismarckian Welfare States," IZA Discussion Papers 5035, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Ascani, Andrea & Crescenzi, Riccardo & Iammarino, Simona, 2016. "Economic institutions and the location strategies of European multinationals in their geographic neighborhood," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 65496, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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    trade unions; dualisation; interests; ideas; atypical work; Italy;

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