Break up to get back together. The impact of unionisation through innovative service provision on union membership and industrial relations – BREAKBACK

The Project focuses on “service provision” as a strategy through which unions aim to enhance their membership, “revitalize” action and relaunch the role of an inclusive and innovative social dialogue, by reaching groups and individuals who are often excluded from protection. We refer to employees commonly identified as “vulnerable” (non-standard employment, digital workers, etc.). BreakBack will deal with selfemployed workers, the I-pros and freelancers. As the title of the project suggests, it may be necessary to “break up” some rigidity in the protection of work as a way to strengthen personalized support instruments. However, these forms of protection cannot fail to “get back” to the collective solidarity that is a crucial point of industrial relations and union history. Service provision is one of the possible forms that unions undertake to achieve inclusive labour markets,against the backdrop of deregulation and welfare retrenchment. In particular, services the project will focus on are addressed to people who need support or protection: young people seeking first job; unemployed who need income support, training or other basic services; dependent workers who need access to insurance and assistance; self-employed who need tax advices; migrants who need assistance; disabled persons or elderly people who need access to services; etc. The growing emphasis put by unions on direct provision of services may facilitate social innovation, which means developing new services and delivery models to better address social issues. The purpose of BreakBack is to assess how unions respond to individualisation and to evaluate the impact of service provision on membership. The hypothesis is that in the attempt to reach workers whose interests are fragmented and which are less keen on becoming union members, unionists are widely experimenting a “customerisation” of their offer. Understanding how this process can coexist with the core values of the unionism is our main aim.

Start date: 01/03/2019
Finish date: 31/08/2021
Funding: DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, EUROPEAN COMMISSION
Grant Agreement nr: VS/2019/0079
Principal investigator: Oscar Molina
Team: Alejandro Godino

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