Global Governance of Labour: An integrated approach

Lunch seminar
VINCENZO MACCARRONE, University College Dublin
Global Governance of Labour: An integrated approach


Until the beginning of the 2008 economic and financial crisis, the effects of European integration on member states’ industrial relations were mostly felt through the indirect competitive pressures exercised by the process of market integration. After the outbreak of the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent adoption of a new economic governance regime (NEG) of the European Union, however, direct interventions of EU-level actors into national industrial relations increased significantly (Erne, 2015; Marginson and Welz, 2015).
Until 2019, the orientation of EU interventions on employment relations was predominantly commodifying(Jordan, Maccarrone and Erne, 2020; Copeland, 2020), going in the direction of wage restraint, decentralisation of collective bargaining and deregulation of employment protection legislation. Over the last three years, however, the orientation of EU interventions on employment relations seems to have shifted, not through a re-orientation of the NEG regime but rather through the ordinary legislative procedure. In October 2020, the Commission proposed a draft directive on ‘adequate minimum wages in Europe’, which the Parliament and the Council adopted two years later. Albeit the concrete effects of the directive have yet to be evaluated, it arguably has a de-commodifying orientation.
This contribution aims to analyse the impact of a decade of European interventions on national wage policy, focusing on two countries, Ireland and Italy. Advancing a ‘slow comparison’ (Almond and Connolly, 2019) that relies on the findings from a six-year engagement with the field, I highlight how, whereas the EU governance of wage relations exercised common pressures on Irish and Italian employment relations, these followed uneven trajectories, which were shaped by institutional factors and power relations. The paper thus contributes to our understanding on Europeanisation of wage policy, as well as to broader debates on institutional change within European industrial relations (Baccaro and Howell, 2017; Meardi, 2018).