Delineating basis of labour market Segregating labour markets
Dividing the active part of the working population into two (or more) groups, the principal being: (a) workers with permanent employment contacts, a strong legal position, a great income security and high-skilled jobs; (b) workers with the opposite characteristics, sometimes called peripheral workers (including those self-employed, contracting out or providing casual and unskilled labour).
As a result of the trend towards more flexible working conditions, enterprises are tending for a model with a relatively small nucleus of (permanent) workers with broadly described jobs, surrounded by workers with temporary supportive functions on temporary flexible contracts or subcontracts and with a low degree of unionization. Groups in a weak labour market position, such as young people, women and ethnic minorities, are strongly represented in the secondary segment, as is the informal economy. It is argued that this trend to flexible employment contracts could harden the borderline between segments in the labour market, making interchange impossible. This could be additional barrier for those in the currently inactive component of the labour market (those unemployed, raising children etc.) in their aspirations for future deployment in the permanent workforce. (Since the number of inactive in proportion to the number of active employees is growing, causing some problems with the financing of social security, the pressure on contributions and taxes adds to the problems.) In Italy, particularly in the south, there is a very extensive informal economy, and an increase in precarious jobs (mostly sweat shops and in the service sector) can be observed in most European countries. With falling memberships, trade unions in most countries, except in Germany, are opting to work for the material interests of their members rather than pursue solidarity with the weaker, thus also segmenting the workforce further at the political level.
Segmentation threatens the trade union movement in the their ability to protect the general interests of workers, advance worker participation and in collective bargaining.
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