The mobilisation of a category of precarious workers in universities: the plight of gradworkers
Marie A. MÉNARD
This article explores the resurgence of strikes among grad workers in the United States. After several waves of unionisation, these precarious members of university staff are now organizing strikes to demand recognition as employees and better employment conditions. While some strikes have been successful, others have yielded more mixed results, highlighting the challenge of maintaining effective coalitions between tenured and non-tenured workers and the continued existence of grey areas between work and employment within universities.
Keywords: United States, university, strike, grad workers, employment status, working conditions
The law of 2021: union rights under pressure and reactions from the unions
The current conservative government passed a law in 2021 to “Europeanise” the union movement and “protect the public interest”. It radically alters the rules surrounding the legal recognition of unions, the convening of general assemblies, procedures for calling strikes and their terms of operation in relation to employees of public-sector companies or public interest organisations. Unions see it as the next stage in a continued process of weakening union rights, indicative of a will to render them completely powerless.
Keywords: Greece, law 4808, union rights, strike.
The 20th Austrian Trade Union Federation congress and climate change: towards a unionism for social change?
At its 20th congress, the Austrian Trade Union Federation tackled the question of climate change for the first time. Ordinarily, it leaves such discussions to the Social Democratic Party, but a weakening of the historical links between the federation and the party may be behind this major change. Union thinking on economic matters rests on three pillars: securing workers’ career trajectories, public ownership of strategic businesses and strong development of social housing.
Keywords: Austria, trade union congress, Austrian Trade Union Federation, climate change.
New government measures to bolster women’s participation in the labour market: an impossible challenge?
In Germany, businesses and public services are running into shortages of qualified staff and growing difficulties with recruitment. The coalition government led by Chancellor Scholz therefore adopted measures in 2022-2023 to encourage women, especially mothers, many of whom work part time or have precarious jobs, to become more invested in their careers. These measures are however insufficient in the face of structural obstacles which lessen the chances of women participating more fully in the labour market.
Keywords: Germany, part-time employment, women, precarity, recruitment difficulties, retirement.
The collective bargaining strategies of IG Metall: all quiet on the Eastern front?
Michael WHITTALL, Ingrid ARTUS, Andreas FISCHER and Judith HOLLAND
This article analyses the development of collective bargaining in the metallurgical and electrical industries in Thuringia and Saxony. The former GDR states are generally considered to be home to poor collective bargaining protections, with sector-level collective bargaining in crisis. However, we offer a less pessimistic perspective and show how IG Metall has successfully promoted company-level collective bargaining agreements to stem the decline of collective bargaining protections; this strategy has contributed to stabilising the number of union members and company employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
Keywords: Germany, East Germany, GDR, IG Metall, collective bargaining, company collective agreement.