AIAS Lunch Seminar 20 December: Lisa Berntsen (University of Jyväskylä, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, guest at AIAS)

The challenge of hyper-mobile posted workers for trade union control on construction sites

Lisa Berntsen (University of Jyväskylä, University of Groningen, guest at AIAS)

Day: Thursday 20 December 2012
Time: 12.15 – 13.15 hrs.
Location: AIAS, 3rd floor, M building, Plantage Muidergracht 12, Amsterdam
Registration: Please send an email, preferably before Tuesday 18 December 12.00 hrs, to register.
A sandwich will then be provided.


Using evidence from the Eemshaven construction sites in the northern Netherlands, this article shows how the hyper-mobility of contemporary European construction workers provides a fundamental challenge to the viability of construction unions in Europe. The transnational structure of the construction’ labour market, the relatively low commitment to particular job sites, combined with the high risk of employer retaliation for union activity ensure that the current repertoire of trade union tactics offer no practical way to represent posted workers. This is the case even where the unions have applied sophisticated rank and file engagement tactics combined with strategic on-going servicing practices, as occurred in the Eemshaven. This paper shows that representing hyper-mobile posted workers and to therewith maintain control on labour standards on site is a key challenge to the sustainability of European construction unions.

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