Employment and labour relations: between segmentation and convergence

Theme N°: 

Are the employment conditions and labour standards in the automotive sector converging? The globalization of automotive industries, the diffusion of best practices and production and quality standards, the upgrading of subsidiaries in emerging markets, and the growing role of innovation activities worldwide should imply at least some forms of convergence. However, significant gaps in employment and working conditions, in wages and benefits, and in workers’ interest representation between spaces of production in mature and emerging countries remain the norm, and they are also systematically exploited by the whipsawing practices of firms to reduce costs and increase efficiency. We need a better understanding of how these contradictory dynamics play together, of the different factors that affect their contrasted outcomes, and of the political processes involved in the transformations of work and employment relationships in mature and emerging countries.

We welcome in particular papers detailing and analyzing the outcomes of the restructuring processes triggered by the crisis in mature countries, as well as papers that cast light on the structuring processes of new industries in emerging markets. The focus can be on automobile companies and on the evolution of their specific HR policies, on trade unions’ and national or supranational governments’ strategies and policies in relation to the evolution of employment and work in the sector during and after the crisis, or on recent negotiations and work contracts’ changes at local, regional and national level.

As in the previous international colloquium, we would like to keep a special focus on the transformation of work and employment in R&D activities. We seek papers that track new trends such as the development of outsourcing of R&D work, the increasing internal and external cooperation (and competition) between R&D centers and subsidiaries worldwide, and the growing standardization and/or “industrialization” of work tasks and activities.

The introduction of new technologies at all stages of R&D and production, the growing tertiarization of the sector as well as the ongoing transformation of carmakers into providers of mobility services also imply important transformations in the structure of employment and work worldwide. We are interested in papers that analyze how these transformations impact work and employment in traditional players (OEMs and suppliers), but also in papers that focus on the employment relations of the new players within and outside the industry. A particular interest will be given here to papers that explore the wide implications in terms of work and employment of the growing role of “share economy’s” players, such as BlaBlaCar, Lyft, Uber, in the provision of automobile services.

- The future of work in the automotive sector (Tommaso Pardi, Jorge Carrillo)

This year Gerpisa will start a three year cooperation with the International Labour Organization to explore the transformations and future of work in the automotive sector and the conditions that will allow for the progress of social justice in line with the ILO Century Project (http://www.ilo.org/century/lang--en/index.htm). This cooperation will entail the production of a report on the future of work in the automotive sector, as well as other collective publications of selected papers. Under this sub-stream we seek papers that will have a focus on this and related topics, such as the development and preservation of decent jobs in the global automotive value-chain, and how the current transformations of the organization of work and production and of the governance of work affect these outcomes at regional, national and firms’ levels.

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Concéption Tommaso Pardi
Administration Juan Sebastian Carbonell, Lorenza MonacoGéry Deffontaines

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