Reducing Inequalities in Europe
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Reducing Inequalities in Europe

How Industrial Relations and Labour Policies Can Close the Gap

Edited by Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead

International debate has recently focused on increased inequalities and the adverse effects they may have on both social and economic developments. Income inequality, now at its highest level for the past half-century, may not only undermine the sustainability of European social policy but also put at risk Europe’s sustainable recovery. A common feature of recent reports on inequality (ILO, OECD, IMF, 2015–17) is their recognition that the causes emerge from mechanisms in the world of work. The purpose of this book is to investigate the possible role of industrial relations, and labour policies more generally, in reducing these inequalities.
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Chapter 6: Industrial relations, imposed flexibility and inequality during the Greek Great Depression

Maria Karamessini and Stefanos Giakoumatos


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.

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