Annual Report: Central London BUIRA 2017-2018

Five seminars were organised for the programme this year, each well-attended (c30 participants) and with very lively discussions. The programme focussed on very different themes of key importance to industrial relations.


24th November 2017, European Social Dialogue (ESD), with Philippe Pochet (General Director, European Trade Union Institute) on What is the Role of Employers and what are the Hopes for the Future? and Werner Buelen (European Federation of Building and Woodworkers) on The Difficulties and Reality of the European Social Dialogue for Trade Unions. Discussant: Professor Richard Hyman (LSE)

Philipe Pochet’s spoke about the strategy of the different EU actors, in particular the employers’ organisations and European multinationals in the ESD, and to consider the ESD’s possible revival following the crises of European integration and threats to the internal market. Werner Buelen, Political Secretary Construction at EFBWW gave a critical account of the reality and results of the ESD


26th January 2018, The changing labour contract, with Dr Simon Joyce (University of Leeds) on the Future of Work and the Gig Economy and Dr Alexandra Oeser (Université Paris Nanterre) From local to international: wiping out the employer? Discussant: Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick (Birkbeck College

Alexandra Oeser tackled the question of the consequences of the financialization of global firms for local fights for employment and for syndicalist strategies. She focussed on the example of the Molex company, which bought a local factory in southern France in 2004 only to relocate it to China in 2008-2009. The fight against the closure of the factory in rural France obeyed different norms from those of the closure itself, decided in Chicago. She also talked about forms of masculinity used on both levels in the fight, and their consequences for work structures and political mobilization. Simon Joyce spoke about the mediation of paid work via online platforms. Companies such as Uber, Upwork, Taskrabbit, and Amazon Mechanical Turk have pioneered this method of organising a workforce, which is widely expected to grow in importance in coming years. He presented research investigating the nature and extent of platform work in Europe, and examined its implications for working lives and for the regulation of employment relations, as well as discussing conceptual and theoretical challenges that these developments pose for industrial relations scholars and researchers


23rd February 2018, Labour Abuse, with Professor Roberto Pedersini (University of Milan) on Coping with fraudulent Work in the European Union, and Nick Clark (Middlesex University) on One law for the rich… Case studies from the Unpaid Britain project

Roberto Pedersini presented the main findings of a study carried out on behalf of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) on the different types and diffusion of fraudulent work in the European Union and the responses that public authorities and social partners have developed to address the challenges posed. Three forms of contracting work are most affected by fraudulent uses – self-employment, fixed-term work and the posting of workers, whilst the social partners mainly operate to increase commitment to compliance. Nick Clark reported on the Unpaid Britain project, examining the phenomenon of unpaid wages, in particular in the London labour market. While secondary data analysis and primary research on Employment Tribunal judgements have revealed much, a series of case studies have provided fascinating insights into this most fundamental breach of the work contract.


27th April 2018 Labour Migration with Professor Bridget Anderson (University of Bristol) on Labour market flexibility and citizenship rights and Dr Rachel Marangozov (Institute of Employment Studies) on Brexit and beyond: A perfect storm for our nursing workforce?.

Bridget Anderson explored the tension between labour market flexibilities and citizenship rights and discussed the functions of immigration in key labour market sectors and the ways in which immigration controls increasingly impact on citizens as well as migrants. Rachel Marangozov presented findings from 2 IES studies:1) for the Migration Advisory Committee, on whether nursing should be kept on the Shortage Occupation List; and 2) on the risks of Brexit to the nursing workforce. She questioned the sustainability of continued reliance on a foreign workforce of nurses.


25th May 2018, Port Union Organising in the Global South: China and Latin America Compared with  Katy Fox-Hodess (University of Sheffield), Worker Power, Trade Union Strategy and International Connections: A Cross-National Comparison of Dockworker Unionism in Latin America and Dr Tim Pringle (SOAS, University of London) Labour organizing, trade union reform and working class power in China

Katy Fox Hodess presented some of the findings of her PhD, entitled Dockworkers of the World Unite: Transnational Class Formation and the New Labor Internationalism, in which she examines the construction of ‘bottom-up’ labor internationalism by rank-and-file dockworker union activists affiliated to the International Dockworkers Council. Katy discussed union coordination in response to recent labor disputes in Latin America (Chile, Colombia). Tim Pringle, whose research is focussed on East Asia, in particular labour relations, trade union reform and social movements and labour migration in China and Vietnam, mistook the tine and arrived at the end – so is invited back for a session in the next academic year on China..


Linda Clarke

June 2018