The International Handbook of Labour Unions
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The International Handbook of Labour Unions

Responses to Neo-Liberalism

Edited by Gregor Gall, Adrian Wilkinson and Richard Hurd

Since the 1970s, the spread of neo-liberalism across the world has radically reconfigured the relationship between unions, employers and the state. The contributors highlight that this is the major cause and effect of union decline and if there is to be any union revitalisation and return to former levels of influence, then unions need to respond in appropriate political and practical ways. Written in a clear and accessible style, the Handbook examines unions’ efforts to date in many of the major economies of the world, providing foundations for understanding each country.
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Chapter 4: Pragmatism, Ideology or Politics? Unions’ and Workers’ Responses to the Imposition of Neo-liberalism in Argentina

Maurizio Atzeni and Pablo Ghigliani


Maurizio Atzeni and Pablo Ghigliani INTRODUCTION Neo-liberalism has imposed itself as a paradigm of the world economy through geographically and historically uneven processes, producing changes in the social milieu and institutional frameworks of nations in different forms and at different times. These variations in national contexts, important as they are to explain differences for instance in terms of trade unions’ opposition or accommodation to the system, cannot be grasped without considering both the economic and political aspects of neo-liberalism. The generalised implementation of market oriented economic policies, the liberalisation of labour markets, the commodification of the former public sector through privatisation, and the financialisation of the economy, should not be seen then as just changes in the economic sphere but as parts of a more general political project. As Harvey (2005) has argued, this project, starting as a reaction to 1970s economic and social turmoil, aimed to re-establish conditions for capital accumulation and restoration of class power and involved both the creative destruction of institutions, social relations, work organisations and welfare systems and an hegemonic discourse, which legitimised market reforms as natural and common-sense. Harvey’s analysis of neo-liberalism as a worldwide project aimed at rebalancing the class relationship and thus comprehending economic, political and ideological dimensions, seems particularly relevant in the case of Argentina, where since 1976 a combination of all these dimensions has appeared, responding to macroeconomic international variables, local political struggles and social conflicts. Three main neo-liberal phases can be identified. The liberalisation of the economy introduced by...

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