What is the nature of the crisis in French unionism? A reading from the perspective of models of production


1 May 2018


Volume 1 – Number 9

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José-Angel Calderón
Lille University of Science and Technology



The gradual change in the model of production since the 1970s produced a heterogenization and polarization of workers’ terms of employment— between, on the one hand, a segment of workers with stable employment, legal protection and good representation by the unions and on the other hand an increasingly populous segment of peripheral workers who were cut off collective bargaining and whose terms of employment were “negotiated” individually when they were hired. By this analysis, it is not so much the institutionalization of French unionism that lies behind its crisis as the de- institutionalization of the wage relationship, one of the conditions of which seems to be the weakening of the union itself. The unions find themselves in a situation where they alone are opposing an increased riskiness in labour relations that, while distancing them from the peripheral segments of the workforce, is locking them into defensive positions.


Unionism; France; institutionalization; industrial relations.