The Organization of Precarious Workers in Argentina: Between Marketplace, Workplace and Associational Power

Monday, July 14, 2014: 6:00 PM
Room: Booth 41
Oral Presentation
Maurizio ATZENI , loughborough university, loughborough, United Kingdom
In the global context, previously accepted divisions between formal and informal employment are losing ground. The last three decades of neoliberalism, rather than reducing the gap between protected and unprotected workers, have made work more precarious. Not just workers traditionally employed within the so called informal sector of the economies have increased in number. Precarious conditions of employment are becoming the standard in formally regulated systems of employment and this across the Global North/Global South divide. Despite common tendencies, the possibility for collective organising among precarious workers however differs consistently, between countries but also between different economic sectors of activity within the same country.

Drawing on fieldwork research currently conducted in Argentina, the paper aims to give a country overview of the factors that can explain the forms and strategies adopted by different groups of precarious workers in their attempts at collective organizing. Argentina in the last two decades has passed through deep crises and economic recoveries, processes of de-industrialisation and partial reconversion to industrial production and has moved, in a relatively short time span, from a formalized and extended system of work protection and workers’representation, close to the one existing in postwar Europe, to a system of employment that remains based, despite recent economic growth and government’s policy changes, on the precariousness and informality of the majority of the working population. In this sense and for its history, Argentina might be considered as a good example of the way in which structural processes continuously shift the borders within which precarious workers’action takes place. Socio-political context, institutional framework and history of workers mobilizations are the general factors that can be outlined. However, the level of precariousness, skills, strategic location and technological development of the sector in which workers develop their activities also profoundly affects possibilities for action.