Increasing flexibility of working conditions and time, called the "flexibililization of labour" - is a strategy pursued by employers in a climate of economic integration and industrial competitiveness. An often deliberate side benefit is that increased flexibility is often linked with the fragmentation of workers. The willingness of workers to step into flexible forms of working can be explained by the job shortage. A diversity of working times and employment contracts fosters individualization and interferes with workers' solidarity. It also causes, or adds to, clashes of interests between workers and job-seekers, but also between workers in the field of working conditions. Employers, and sometimes also government, attempt to carry this strategy through without involving (and sometimes even against) the trade unions. Nationwide bargaining and general rule are avoided as much as possible.
Neither the European Commission nor the corporations really care about the trade-unions. The EU is an obstacle to international trade unionism, since the Euro currency, the Maastricht criteria and the stability pact constitute an economic corset that leaves little room for being social. Additionally the unions are rather ineffective. All trade-unions combined employ about 50 lobbyists in Brussels, compared to thousands of corporate lobbyists ([eg] one oil company employs 400 lobbyists to communicate with the 700 members of the European Parliament). The communication of the 'central' trade-union with the 'local' trade-unions in the member countries is also quite bad - the centre is too far away and speaks a different language [also literally]).
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