Changes in Labour Law and Devaluation of Labour in Portugal: Critical Perspectives and Prospects for a New Labour Regulation

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Seminarraum 5C G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Hermes COSTA, University of Coimbra, Faculty of Economics, Center for Social Studies, Portugal
Manuel Carvalho SILVA, Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal
Bia CARNEIRO, University of Coimbra, Portugal
Especially since 2008, public authorities and lawmakers across Europe have taken steps to make labour markets more flexible. According to Clauwaert and Schömann (2012), two types of measures were adopted: a) transitional measures, mainly related to working time (increase in working hours or reduction in overtime payment) and atypical employment contracts (fixed-term; part-time; temporary agency work); b) permanent measures, related to redundancy rules (e.g. reviewed  definitions for collective redundancies; flexibilisation of existing regulations) or the trends to decentralize collective bargaining and the progressive weakening of trade union representation.

Portugal was not immune to such changes. Accordingly, and based on the research carried out within the Observatory on Crises and Alternatives, our goal is threefold:

i) first, we intend to systematize the main changes in labour law in order to propose a measurement of the income transfers from labour to capital (on this purpose, and among others, some figures concerning overtime work are presented);

ii) we then identify and classify  the main forms of precarious employment in Portugal (which the debt crisis helped to exacerbate), as these enhance the weakness of regulatory mechanisms oriented to the world of work. Our analysis will be focused on fixed-term contracts, “green [self-employment] receipts”, involuntary part-time work, temporary work, and state-induced precariousness;

iii) finally, we list a set of priorities for the world of work that should involve political, economic and social actors. In this sense, a prospective exercise necessarily involves the contribution of the main actors of the Portuguese industrial relations system: government, employers and trade unions.