Legal change and labour market restructuring in Western Europe and the US


  • Simon Deakin



The major changes that have taken place in the New Zealand labour market since 1984, and which are reflected in recent changes to the welfare system, are not unique and follow trends that have developed in other OECD countries in the last decade. One of the most significant of these trends is legislative and other moves to encourage greater "efficiency" in the labour market. Deregulation, involving the withdrawal of legal guarantees of employment protection and union organization, is only one of the techniques which governments have used in an attempt to promote labo,ur market flexibility over the past decade. In continental Europe new forms of employment and the flexibilization of working time have been encouraged without dismantling the framework of employment rights. In many cases this has involved an extended role for collective bargaining and worker representation at plant and company level. In the US and Britain, by contrast, flexibility has been pursued at the cost of destabilizing the employment relationship, undermining training and job quality.


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