De-collectivising strategies in the food manufacturing industry in Chile

Daina Bellido De Luna Mayea

Research output: Working paper

Abstract

In trying to advance power in the workplace, one of the major obstacles unions face is the resistance from employers. These obstacles often come from the implementation of employers’ de-collectivising strategies. Such strategies aim to consolidate management interests and reduce the influence of unions (Van den Broek and Dundon, 2012; Peetz, 2002). De-collectivising strategies can take different forms that can range from the use of individual contracts, sophisticated human resource policies to build and maintain a non-union workplace and overt anti-union practices (Gall and Dundon, 2013). The majority of de-collectivising strategies have been explained for developed countries such as UK, Ireland and Australia. Yet Latin American countries have important institutional and political characteristics that can inform the literature on employers’ de-collectivism activities. Chile, as a liberal market economy, is a country characterized by significant de-collectivism levels. This paper argues that, aided by legislation, Chilean employers have built an intricate web of mechanisms to resist the influence of trade unions in the workplace. In addition, such de-collectivising strategies have become normalised. Statistics from the National Labour Survey show that in at least 45% of workplaces, trade union leaders have witnessed one negative employer practice against them. All these practices may not only be directly attributed to the diminished bargain capabilities of Chilean trade unions, but they can also account for the more aggressive de-collectivising strategies that Chilean employers can implement. However, there are other more subtle de-collectivising activities. The more subtle strategies used by Chilean employers are multi-rut, extension of collectively bargained benefits to non-union members, agreements on convenios instead of collective contracts and bargaining groups. Despite these strategies being old and contested, they remain frequent in the country’s industrial relations field. By informing the international literature on this debate, these strategies should be included under the umbrella of de-collectivising strategies. Three case studies from the food and drinks sector were developed to characterise the shape and patterns of Chilean companies de-collectivising strategies. Using Peetz (2002) de-collectivism model of inclusivist and exclusivist measures, the evidence suggests that Chilean employers may apparently have a collaborative approach to trade unions but may simultaneously use several de-collectivising practices to weaken unions in the workplace. An important conclusion is that this configuration of practices can sometimes be extremely complex and uneven while the terminology used in the international literature may be problematic.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusIn preparation - 30 May 2018

Keywords

  • Trade Unions
  • De-collectivising
  • Employment Relations
  • Industrial Relations
  • Latin America
  • Chile

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