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Flexi-Security and the ETUC. UNI- Europa conference on Flexicurity, Copenhague, February 2008 Ronald Janssen, ETUC. Flexi-security:The ETUC’s starting point. Definition: Policies that at the same time and deliberately enhance both the flexibility of as well as security on labour markets.

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flexi security and the etuc

Flexi-Security and the ETUC

UNI- Europa conference on Flexicurity, Copenhague, February 2008

Ronald Janssen, ETUC

flexi security the etuc s starting point
Flexi-security:The ETUC’s starting point
  • Definition: Policies that at the same time and deliberately enhance both the flexibility of as well as security on labour markets.
  • Philosophy: Thinking flexibility and security together: Business as well as labour are in need of security as well as flexibility
why labour needs flexibility
Why Labour needs flexibility
  • Workers that are mobile and skilled have a better bargaining position
  • They will not accept the ‘blackmail’ to cut wages in order to subsidize jobs and firms that have failed to innovate
  • A job for life’ (if it exists) not always a perfect guarantee
  • Internal functional flexibility (with multi-skilling, rotating jobs, training) safeguards jobs through innovation
  • Flexibility and autonomy in working time
why business profits from a secure work force
Why Business profits from a secure work force
  • Stable jobs are good for productivity
  • A secure work force: open to innovation and change
  • A secure work force: willing to share its (tacit) knowledge (thé competitive advantage in today’s world!)
  • Workers will only be willing to move between jobs if the economy is built up of good and stable jobs offering secure work cntracts
implementing flexi security easier said than done
Implementing flexi-security: ‘Easier said than done’
  • What all too often happens is ‘flexi-security’ being hijacked by one particular interest
  • Resulting in a ‘polluted’ debate, in ‘unbalanced’ policies, in ‘winner takes it all’ strategy
where s the balance in the following policy proposal
Where’s the balance in the following policy proposal?
  • Reduce level of job protection and make it easy and cheap for business to fire workers
  • Benefits harm incentives to take up a job, so they need to be ‘adequate’,(not generous) and ‘modern’ (‘workfare’ and in-work benefits).
  • Lifelong learning: Employers already pay much, time for workers to invest their time
  • Easy firing of workers will create new jobs, so no need for accompanying job and growth friendly economic policies
in other words
In other words…
  • …if workers want security, let them ‘eat their cake’ and take up a new job.
  • … if we want to tackle precarious work and get the ‘outsiders’ in, then ‘insiders’ need to give up on thier well protected jobs
what would be the consequences of unbalanced flexicurity
What would be the consequences of unbalanced flexicurity?
  • Higher inequality
  • Not more but less jobs
  • Good, regular jobs, replaced by insecure, precarious ones
  • In other words, a new ‘insiders/outsider’ divide with managers and supervisors gaining a lot and this at the expense of ‘casualized’ labour.
what is behind this
What is behind this?
  • ‘Easy firing’ reduces worker motivation, loyality,motivation
  • To maintain more productivity, more supervision is necessary
  • Higher demand for managers: ‘The sky becomes the limit’
  • How to finance them? Compress wages for the rest of workers (possible because of reduced job protection).
etuc s proposals for balanced flexicurity policy
ETUC’s proposals for balanced flexicurity policy
  • General strategy: Get business back into the equation by putting the promotion of quality of jobs at the heart of the strategy ( implies stable employment,collective bargaining rights,…)
  • One key discussion: No ‘blind’ but ‘smart’ reforms of job protection systems and labour law
at the heart of the flexicurity discussion job protection systems
At the heart of the flexicurity discussion: Job protection systems
  • Do not throw away the ‘baby with the bathwater It’s not as simple as giving up on job protection in exchange for employment security
  • Job protection and employment security are not substitutes but complement each other
  • It’s about using robust labour law and robust job protection as a powerful platform to bargain employment or transitional security
sweden career transition agreement
Sweden: Career transition agreement
  • Long period of advance notification used to provide support for workers
    • All firms pay into (sector) fund
    • From the moment of notification, sector fund steps in into firm to provide job counselling, job search help, re-training, paid internships with another employer, financial support for setting up a new business
older workers in sweden
Older workers in Sweden
  • ‘Last in, first out’ principle entrenched in Swedish labour law
  • But: Collective agreements can deviate from this
  • Result: Trade unions and business striking deals for transitional security and severance pay for older workers
netherlands dual epl system
Netherlands: Dual EPL system
  • Dual system of job protection: Either firm pays (a lot), either firm asks prior permissal to fire to regional labour office
  • In latter case,there’s an opportunity for trade unions to bargain a collective agreement on transitional security for workers to be fired.
joint recommendation of european social partners on job protection and labour law
Joint recommendation of European social partners on job protection and labour law
  • Recommend ‘to review, and if neccesary adjust, the design of labour law and job protection
  • ‘with a view to’
    • Ensure balance between flexibility and security. Provide adequate security for all contracts
    • Develop complementary employment security measures
    • Enhance legal certainty with regard to scope, coverage of labour law
    • Respect the European Social Aquis
    • Promote stable employment relationships
    • Improve work/life balance
where are we now
Where are we now?

Common European Flexicurity principles: A number of good things …

  • Internal flexicurity as important as external flexicurity
  • Each country to decide its own arrangement
  • Improve transition from unstable to stable and legally secure jobs (Implicit target: stable jobs)
  • Aware of financial and budgetary limits
where are we now1
Where are we now?
  • … but also some questions?
    • Where has ‘security’ gone to?
      • Contractual arrangements to be flexible and ‘reliable’
      • Adequate social benefits providing incentives and support for job transitions
    • If ‘new jobs’ so important, why are growth friendly macro economic policies and innovation policies not being mentioned?
    • Impression created that more exceptions in labour law are necessary to provide ‘stepping stones’ for ‘groups at risk’.
  • The ‘flexicurity’ battlefield is moving from the level of European principles…
  • ….to national level implementation
  • Watch out for Commission/Council’s country recommendations..
  • … and go ‘on the offensive’ instead