Employment Regulations, Labour Supply, and Workforce Composition

Differences in employment regulation did not appear to have a substantial direct impact on the way work was organized, notwithstanding its relevance for other aspects of job quality and the potential to exert indirect influence. The main observable effect was in the UK in relation to less regulation of selfemployment and contractual hours which enabled employers to use more casual employment. The rapid expansion in the use of self-employment contracts for personal training in the private fitness industry and the widespread use of casual contracts and small part-time jobs for vocational teachers were often associated with a process of workforce segmentation creating narrower positions with fewer responsibilities. In cafes, the ease of hire-and-fire, along with variable hours contracts, allowed managers more scope to control and discipline workers than would have been possible if workers were harder to dismiss or had fixed hours.

Another factor to be considered is labour supply and workforce composition. In the cafe case studies, migrant workers were more extensively employed in Norway than in the UK and France, although in Norway's case these were predominantly young women from neighbouring Sweden. This finding may partly be due to the regions where the research was undertaken, which in the case of France and the UK did not include the capital cities. There are, however, important national differences in workforce composition which lend some support to Carre and Tilly's (2012) argument that factors in the 'reproductive sphere', such as the affordability of childcare and the education system, can play an important role in shaping who does low-end jobs. In the

UK cafe sector, the presence of substantial numbers of working-class mature women with low or no qualifications, who have worked in the sector for many years, is not found in Norway, where the job is overwhelmingly undertaken by female students and migrants. In France, those working in cafes are mainly young men and women who are passing through these jobs either as students or as a step on the ladder to better positions in the industry or wider labour market.

Students and those taking a break from their studies are important sources of labour for the cafe sector in all three countries as well as for the fitness industry in Norway. A plentiful supply of student labour undermines pressure on employers to raise pay levels in France and the UK, where there also remains a substantial non-student workforce in these sectors. In Norway, cafe worker and fitness instructor are jobs dominated by students looking for temporary employment. As a result, there is little pressure to pay a higher wage, join a trade union, create qualification standards, or develop career paths. This deployment of young people in what they consider to be temporary positions creates problems in terms of union organization and appears to limit both individual and wider societal concerns about the quality of employment. This position contrasts with other low-end jobs, such as cleaning in Norway, where full-time, older, mostly female workers are employed, and unions have successfully campaigned for improvements (Torvatn 2011).

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >