Addressing the Complex Challenges of Globalisation: Union Strategies in the Shipping and Automotive Industries

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Helen SAMPSON, Cardiff University, School of Social Sciences, United Kingdom
Jose Ricardo RAMALHO, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In the context of globalisation, both the shipping and automotive industries have outsourced and off-shored production. In the case of shipping, this has meant registering vessels with ‘flags of convenience’ and outsourcing/off-shoring labour supply via the use of third party crewing agencies. In the case of the automotive sector, it has involved the relocation of factories to new areas of production such as Mexico and Brazil, in Latin America, with the implementation of flexible labour relations and low wages.

This poses challenges for trade unions seeking to protect workers and stave off the associated downward pressures on employment terms and conditions.

This paper explores the response of the ITF and national trade unions (representing seafarers in both the developed and developing world) to changes in employment practices within shipping. In parallel, it considers the implementation of International Framework Agreements (IFAs) across the automotive industry and the responses of trade unions in Brazil to downward pressures on terms and conditions in this kind of industry. In doing so, it sheds light on the discussion of the political success of such strategies in securing worker protection and in maintaining the capacity of trade unions to successfully negotiate workers´ demands.