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Title: The decline of trade unions in Mexico during the neoliberal period
Author: Zepeda, Roberto
ISNI:       0000 0004 2720 9904
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2011
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The purpose of this thesis is to assess the most significant factors accounting for the decline of trade union density during the period 1984-2006, specifically the case of Mexico. Union density, which reflects the representation of unions in the employed labour force, is taken as one of the main indicators of trade unions' strength. Other aspects are also considered, such as the relation of organised labour with the state and the political system. The analysis is framed within a structure concentrated on cyclical, structural and political-institutional factors linked to trade union performance. In the period studied, the transformations brought about by neoliberalism and democratisation reshaped many features of the domestic political and economic model. Thus, an examination of these developments, regarding the repercussions on the factors linked to union density decline, is crucial. The problem In the last quarter of the 20th century, trade unions around the world faced numerous difficulties in overcoming the challenges raised by economic and political transformations which reshaped the world of labour. For example, labour unions lost ground as major actors in the political and labour realms, compared with their privileged position over the post-war period. Similarly, union representation within the employed labour force has declined concurrently with the deterioration of real wages, fringe benefits, and social provisions. Collective labour contracts were dismantled during the f1exibilisation of labour. Furthermore, organised labour has seen its infl uence reduced in the political sphere, which has created an unfavourable outcome for workers. The collective bargaining power of labour unions before employers has also eroded because of the ease with which capital can relocate production. In sum, organised labour has seen its position reduced in various spheres and has faced a manifold crisis. Significant academic research has demonstrated the decline of trade unions in the last decades. In a wide study covering 92 countries, the International Labour Organisation ILO (1998) demonstrated that during the 1980s and 1990s the share of unionised workers with respect to the labour force diminished in most of the countries. According to this report, between 1985 and 1995 unionisation declined in 87 of 92 countries around the world. Furthermore, in only 14 of these countries were union density rates higher than 50% and in more than half, they were less than 20%. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development 0 ECD (1997,2004 and 2009) has also published numerous reports on the topic in which it can be seen that the expansion of union density in the employed labour force is the exception, not the rule, in the majority of the countries of this organisation. Although there is a consensus in academia that trade unions and workers have seen a detrimental panorama in recent decades, this is not the case regarding the factors explaining the regression of trade unions which appear divergent in each country and typically depend on national institutions, making necessary the study of individual cases. There are different explanations for union density decline. For instance, the advance of the production system; the implementation of technology in the workplace, which has reduced the number of employees; changes in employment composition; i.e., the decline of industry and the rise of services; the lack of identification with unions among new workers largely composed by the young and by females; the role of the state, employers and corporations, and especially the inefficiency of union leadership, among others. In addition, economic and social policies and the dismantling of corporatist structures are also considered in this regard. In view of that multiplicity of factors, it is crucial to establish those most relevant to the decline of labour union density. However, as can be seen, factors relating to the decline of unions are heterogeneous and merit proper classification as well as an explanation of their relevance in specific cases.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available