Western European countries, like all industrialised market economies, have been confronted since the early 1970s with a profoundly changing economic and social environment. The current crisis is not only apparent in terms of faltering economic growth and low employment perspectives: it is also a social, institutional and political crisis. The quantity and quality of work are changing. New patterns of organising work and production processes and new social relationships emerge at the workplace. Rapid technological change is coming to effect the working lives of virtually all wage and salary earners. Economic stagnation and technological change have been accompanied by rapid changes in the composition of the labour force. As a result of these various factors, established patterns of working life are changing in Europe.
European trade unions are at the centre of this change. What is their role in a society in crisis? Are they going to lose their power as industrialised societies enter a new wave of economic, technological and social innovations, or are they going to assume new roles?
This book and its accompanying volume will hopefully contribute to a better understanding of the functioning of European societies and of the role trade unions play in all aspects of their social, economic and political life.