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Working in the Context of AusterityChallenges and Struggles$
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Donna Baines and Ian Cunningham

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781529208672

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781529208672.001.0001

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Trends in Collective Bargaining, Wage Stagnation and Income Inequality under Austerity

Trends in Collective Bargaining, Wage Stagnation and Income Inequality under Austerity

(p.71) 4 Trends in Collective Bargaining, Wage Stagnation and Income Inequality under Austerity
Working in the Context of Austerity

Ian Cunningham

Philip James

Policy Press

This chapter discusses the impact of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and austerity on collective bargaining and wage outcomes internationally. It adopts a perspective that sees the GFC and austerity as providing a convenient point from which to further consolidate neoliberalism's hold on society and simultaneously undermine one of the chief forms of resistance — trade unions and collective bargaining. The chapter begins by exploring trends in collective bargaining in the EU and North America (US and Canada) in the post-GFC period. In doing so, it identifies a common trajectory in nation-state policies that encompasses a shift towards identifying the GFC as a public debt crisis; the blaming of trade unions and their members (in particular public sector workers) for the crisis; and the introduction of reforms to collective bargaining and union security designed to reinforce deflationary austerity policies. The chapter then examines trends in wage growth and equality since 2008 and considers the factors influencing them and the extent to which they can be viewed as a product of the neoliberal-informed economic policies and reforms adopted in response to the crisis.

Keywords:   Global Financial Crisis, austerity, collective bargaining, wage outcomes, neoliberalism, trade unions, economic policies, public sector workers, austerity policies, wage equality

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