Some thoughts on austerity measures –: EU Law, human rights law & social dialogue

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


Austerity measures have taken a wide variety of forms – as we have seen. While it may be a mistake to single out just a few, when there are significant differences in national practices, structural reforms and their effects, - there are significant commonalities of experience. The following have emerged as key aspects of legal reform during the crisis- whether due to pressure from Memoranda of Understanding (in bailout packages) or so-called ‘softer’ recommendations from the Commission - Governments have taken action to
– increase so-called ‘flexible’ employment – or as it is more accurately called casualand precarious employment
- devise new forms of so-called ‘collective bargaining’ which do not involve
independent trade unions
- to reduce national level and sectoral bargaining - replacing this with bargaining
(often without trade unions) at enterprise level and ending extension of collective
agreements by law
– and finally – action has been taken to inhibit the political voice of trade unions
such that they are no longer informed or adequately consulted in relation to labour law reform.

I’d like to briefly examine the significance of these changes which are inconsistent with the established recognition of collective agreements under EU law. Yet – that fact has not been a concern for the Commission.
So what do we do? Do we revert to human rights complaints? And how do we return to social dialogue in the face of such developments?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationonline: European Lawyers for Workers Network - ocumentation – European Labour Law conference – 17 October 2015 – Madrid – UNDER PRESSURE OF THE TROIKA – THE IMPACT ON COLLECTIVE LABOUR RIGHTS IN SOUTHERN EUROPE AND IRELAND
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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