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The Wage under Attack

Employment Policies in Europe


Edited By Bernadette Clasquin and Bernard Friot

Challenging the widespread view of the continental model of social protection as a «corporatist-conservative» system, this book stresses the creative thrust of the two major institutions of the Bismarckian tradition: the social contribution that finances the socialised wage, and the qualification system that liberates workers from the labour market. These institutions have come under attack over the past two decades via European Employment Strategy policies aimed at imposing the Beveridgean model. And the European Union is using the current economic crisis to justify stepping up this reform process.
The conceptual framework proposed in this volume provides the basis for a critical examination of the interrelated developments in European integration and national policies on employment and social protection. As well as contributing to a sociology of monetary resources, it highlights the emancipatory potential of the continental tradition of the socialised wage, and demonstrates the negative implications of the European Union-led reforms.


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Introduction (Bernadette CLASQUIN, Bernard FRIOT, Merle SHORE)


11 Introduction Bernadette CLASQUIN General Secretary, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme Lorraine Bernard FRIOT Emeritus Professor, University of Paris Ouest Nanterre; member of the Institut Européen du Salariat Merle SHORE Translator Since 2007, as we are being told, the economy has been in crisis – a crisis of public debt and a crisis of employment. But this so-called crisis serves a particular purpose. It is being used to justify pursuing a process that was launched some 30 years ago under the name of “reform”. And that process has fed an economic downturn, which then serves as a pretext for stepping up the same policies that have provoked it – in other words, for administering more of the same toxic remedy that ends up killing the patient. The two targets of this reform policy are the social- ised wage (or more precisely, its social contribution component), and the qualification system, and the overall aim of the European Union (EU) is to impose the Anglo-Nordic Beveridgean model in both fields. A model which, with regard to social contributions, rests on that famous distinction between a “first pillar” of tax-financed public schemes – distributing either a national solidarity allowance or benefits in the form of a deferred income via a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) provident scheme – and a “second pillar” of funded occupational schemes. In the field of employment, “employability” has become the key word, with reforms advocating lifelong learning, career path security, and such like, all of which serve to reinforce the labour market and weaken...

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