Philip J. O’Connell
The Greek Great Depression (2008 to date) has had profound consequences on labour market inequalities by producing mass unemployment of historical dimensions and radical changes in industrial relations. By investigating only the effect of the latter on inequalities among employees, the chapter has found that the dismantling of collective bargaining and ‘imposed flexibility’ have reduced traditional differences in employment and working conditions between large and small firms, formal and informal sectors and reinforced those between young and older workers. As regards the public–private divide, inequalities in employment security and working conditions have been amplified, while wage inequalities have narrowed given the huge cuts imposed on public sector wages in 2010–11. Wage devaluation in the private sector since 2012 has reversed the trend but has failed to contribute to the creation of a sustainable growth pattern which requires a multi-level social dialogue framework to promote productivity and investment in quality production.
Philip J. O’Connell
In Ireland’s voluntarist industrial relations system, the state plays a light role and legislates for neither union recognition nor collective bargaining rights. In that context, union density and collective bargaining are particularly important, but both have been declining in recent decades. Union organising drives have met with mixed results in attempts to grow membership in diverse workforces in sectors with weak existing organisation and precarious employment conditions. Legislative attempts to address the reluctance of employers to recognise unions and engage in collective bargaining have also met with mixed results. Legislation to underpin individual workers’ rights has met with more success, particularly relating to low pay and the minimum wage. However, such legislative interventions may undermine autonomous union organisation. During 2019, after several years of strong growth in the economy and employment, and a sharp decline in unemployment, wage pressure began to intensify, leading to cautious calls for a more orderly, and perhaps, centralised, approach to pay at national level.