Wednesday, December 10, 2008


IWS Documented News Service
Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach
School of Industrial & Labor Relations
-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies
Cornell University
16 East 34th Street, 4th floor
---------------------- Stuart Basefsky
New York, NY 10016
-------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau


The most recent working papers are the following:

GLU WP No.3: Edward Webster et al;
Closing the Representation Gap in Micro and Small Enterprises,
November 2008
[full-text, 77 pages]

The process of increasing informalisation of the labour market is creating a gap between
trade unions and a growing number of workers who have no forms of collective
representation at their places of work. This has been labelled the Representational Gap. In
part this gap is the result of a trend towards the decentralization of production and the
accompanying outsourcing of workers to a third party. In other cases it has arisen from the
trend towards casualisation, part-time and temporary employment relationships. It is
sometimes a result of retrenchment of workers in the face of international competition and
the drive to cut labour costs. The result of these processes is a growing number of workers
engaging in survival type activities in micro and small enterprises (MSEs). In particular
workers in these workplaces have no form of collective representation. This project was
initiated by the International Labour Organisation and is designed to identify obstacles
and opportunities for closing this representational gap.

The first phase of the study was conducted by Edlira Xhafa and involved an examination of
the interdependent relationship in MSEs between labour and social protection legislation
and organizational and representational strength (Xhafa, 2007). It did so by analyzing cases
where, on the one hand, new legal regulations opened up better possibilities for
organizing MSEs and where, on the other hand, organizing activities/strategies led to
changes in legislation or law enforcement.

The second phase of the study was conducted by the alumni of the masters programme of
the Global Labour University (GLU) in Germany under the direction of Professor Edward
Webster from the Society, Work and Development Institute at the University of the
Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. It consists of eleven country studies aimed at elaborating
the dynamics between labour and social protection, and the ability of unions to organize
and represent workers in MSEs. The countries are: Albania, Barbados, Brazil, Colombia,
India, Japan, Korea, Nigeria, Philippines, Turkey and the Ukraine.
The report is divided into two parts. The first part covers the major trends in the MSE's in
the eleven countries, the regulatory framework identified in these countries and the
responses of the state, employers and trade unions to compliance with that regulatory
framework. The data for this component of our report was derived from in-depth
interviews by the researchers with the key actors in government, employers associations
and trade unions in the eleven countries.

The second part of the report is a presentation of the findings of the implementation of a
semi-structured questionnaire amongst workers in a purposive sample of MSEs in the
eleven countries. Our results reveal that unionization has a direct impact on the level of
security in the workplace in the MSE sector with the exception of safety at work. One
possible explanation for this is that there are a large number of exemptions given in labour
regulations on health and safety issues, regardless of whether there is a trade union
present or not. Clearly it is a real dilemma for workers who are willing to take risks in return
for danger pay. The study concludes with a number of recommendations on how to
overcome the representation gap. This included the use of mapping – both vertical and
horizontal - as an organizational tool. This has led to a third phase of the study to begin in
October 2008.

We would like to thank the ILO Small Enterprise Development Department (SEED) and the
Bureau for Workers' Activities (ACTRAV) for their support.

GLU WP No.4: Max J. Zenglein;
Marketization of the Chinese Labor Market and the Role of Unions,
November 2008
[full-text, 37 pages]

This paper will provide insight to recent developments in Chinese labor markets
and the current role of trade unions. The Chinese labor market has changed
dramatically within the past few decades, moving from a centrally planned
economy to a more market oriented one. The marketization of the Chinese labor
market has contributed in creating an employer dominated labor market and
potential social conflict among the labor force. Recent government efforts have
attempted to improve industrial relations and in these efforts the role of trade
unions has also been evolving. However, Chinese trade unions are not
independent and face considerable constraints in achieving their objectives.

GLU WP No.5: Wilfried Schwetz and Donna McGuire;
FIFA World Cup 2006 Germany: An opportunity for union revitalisation?
November 2008
[full-text, 42 pages]

Given their global dimension and centrality to late modern capitalist
development mega sports events like the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup can
provide space for public discussion about the impact of globalisation and the
opportunity for union revitalisation.

This paper examines the activities of selected German unions and civil society
organisations, both in the lead up to and during the FIFA World Cup in Germany
2006, in order to determine the extent to which unions were able to utilise such
opportunities for long-term strategic gains.
Following an overview of the development and growth of mega sports events
and the specifics of the German industrial situation, the actions of selected
German unions are assessed; using union revitalisation categories as a tool, for
examining the strategic processes used by these unions and to point to some
areas of future potential.

As this assessment shows, attempts by German unions to use the World Cup for
long-term strategic gains were exceptional, rather than the general practice. In
part this can be attributed to the time-frame in which the World Cup was held;
the underdeveloped nature of the union revitalisation debate in Germany at the
time and the specifics of the German union situation. At the same time, the power
of the interest groups involved in mega sports events, the complexity of the
relationships, and the level of resources needed by unions to conduct strategic
campaigns and political action should not be underestimated.
This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

Stuart Basefsky                   
Director, IWS News Bureau                
Institute for Workplace Studies 
Cornell/ILR School                        
16 E. 34th Street, 4th Floor             
New York, NY 10016                        
Telephone: (607) 255-2703                
Fax: (607) 255-9641                       

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