Towards a European labour market? Trade unions and flexicurity in France and Britain

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The flexicurity approach to labour market policy may offer advantages for trade unions but also
poses challenges, given their weak situation in policy formulation at EU level and in many member
states. This article explores unions’ capacity to mobilize around flexicurity issues and to influence
policy debates and outcomes in two member states. In the UK, flexicurity has low political salience
and unions have little capacity for mobilization or influence, although they have linked flexicurity
to campaigns on agency workers and restructuring. In France, unions have developed alternative
proposals on making employment pathways secure and have succeeded in shifting debate towards
these proposals rather than the Commission’s flexicurity recommendations, although differences
with the positions of employers and the state have limited outcomes to date. EU policies provide
only weak leverage, since trade unions’ ability to influence labour market policy depends on their
position within domestic institutions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-234
JournalEuropean Journal of Industrial Relations
Issue number3
Early online date6 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


  • Poverty, work and justice


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