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Organised labour, dualisation and labour market reform:Korean trade union in economic and social crisis

Fleckenstein, Timo and Lee, Soohyun Christine (2018) Organised labour, dualisation and labour market reform:Korean trade union in economic and social crisis. Journal of Contemporary Asia. ISSN 0047-2336

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00472336.2018.1536762


Labour markets across industrialised countries are under considerable pressure with governments implementing deregulating reforms in particular at the margins of the labour market, whereas regular workers have often seen very little decline in employment protection. Employers have been pushing hard for labour market deregulation, and it is therefore easy to see a government-business alliance at the heart of these developments. But where are trade unions in this process of labour market deregulation and dualisation? Insider/outsider as well as producer coalition approaches portrait organised labour as a structurally conservative force that prioritises the interests of labour market insiders, whilst sacrificing the interests of outsiders. Rather than protecting the working class, unions are seen as being ‘complicit’ in labour market dualisation that leaves an ever greater number of workers vulnerable. Our examination of the Korean case, though commonly perceived as an example of unions pursuing particularistic interests, does not comply with this image, but shows greater union inclusiveness in the face of socio-economic and socio-political challenges. Understanding Korean trade union strategies, we identify the critical importance of union identities shifting towards social movement unionism, in addition to the perceived imperative to re-vitalise the movement in order to remain a meaningful social force.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Author
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2017 09:53
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 00:16

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