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Trade Union Strategies in a Time of Economic Crisis: the Case of a Car Assembly Plant in Poland

Kajta, Justyna and Mrozowicki, Adam
Focusing on the case of the subsidiary of the transnational corporation with headquarters in Italy, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Poland (FCA Poland), this paper explores the consequences of the 2008+ crisis for the perpetuation and transformation of trade union strategies in the automotive sector in Poland. The case study is situated in a broader context of industrial relations at the sectoral, national and transnational levels. The empirical data include expert interviews with trade union leaders on the company (17) and sectoral (5) levels carried out in 2009-16. In the context of ill-developed sectoral level social dialogue, the study provides some evidence of the development of innovative union strategies at the plant level, including, inter-alia, the periodic mobilization of workers which helped to maintain trade union organizing potential, the rejection of concession bargaining and the upholding of ties and solidarity between core assembler and supplier companies. Simultaneously, it pointed to the shortcomings of company-centered trade union approaches in the case studied, such as difficulties in counteracting the precarization of work, the increased use of temporary work agencies and, finally, mass lay-offs. These shortcomings are explained both by the company-specific factors, such as conflict-oriented management, unions’ inability to overcome historical trade union rivalry and limited transnational union cooperation, and supra-company factors reflecting the features of the industrial relations and political economy in Poland.
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Contributor: Center for Policy Studies - http://cps.ceu.hu
Topic: Economy and Development
Country: Poland
Document Type: Economic Analyses and Commentaries
Year: 2016
Keywords: Crisis, Industrial relations, Trade union
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