CEIL   02670
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
Dilemmas of labor in Latin America: reorganizing industrial relations in a new era
International Labor Breaf
Korea Labor Institute - KLI
Lugar: Seul; Año: 2018 vol. 16 p. 9 - 20
Latin American industrial relations have changed dramatically in the past three decades. The advance of neoliberal policy-making has meant deepening flexibility, growing informal markets, and the retreat of the State as a central player in labour relations. This piece presents the arguments that industrial relations in Latin America are in a new era that is fundamentally changing the ways in which trade unions, businesses and the State interact. The conventional corporatist model of labour relations is no longer the effective tool of the past, while new forms of labour relations arise without completely establishing themselves. This crossroads is a novel situation, as labour markets transition to further flexibility, informality and instability. This essay looks at this situation from the perspective of workers and trade unions, intending to present a picture that correlates with the daily lived realities of a vast majority of the population in the region. The changing nature of industrial relations in Latin America is not a uniform process because the regional organization of labour relations is not uniform either (Berins Collier and Collier 1991). Latin America consists of more than 20 countries, with different systems of labour relations that have evolved historically. Any possible grouping of countries is arbitrary. This piece identifies two general categories: corporatist dominated systems and non-corporatist dominated ones. Corporatism is a model of labour relations that arises from the post-World War Two context in which the State effectively acted as an intermediary with unions and employers (further analysis in section two). This general division allows for further introspection into the changes produced within the last three decades. Within the group of countries in which a corporatist industrial relations culture has evolved are Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela and to a lesser degree Uruguay, while the majority of the rest of the countries can be situated within the non-corporatist model. This division is not permanent, and the historical development in the region shows a flux from one form of industrial relations to the other (Berins Collier and Collier 1991; Etchemendy 2011). The separation of these groups of countries does not imply that the region as a whole does not face similar problems. Latin America witnesses an all-time high number of informal workers, at 134 million, roughly 46.8% of the total workforce (ILO 2016). The flexibilization of labour relations has meant that outsourcing is a pressing issue, challenging the capacity of unions to organize workers and furthering the control of multinational corporations over the economic cycle. Working-time is a pressing issue, with Latin America among the regions with the highest working hours in the world (CEPAL 2012). Lastly, the advent of centre-left, labour-friendly governments in the first decade of the 2000s did not manage to significantly alter the growing disparities in industrial relations between local, increasingly unorganized, workers and large multinational corporations. Improvements in labour standards, including higher real wages, lower unemployment and growth in formal employment, did not manage to overturn the tendency towards greater flexibility and vulnerability at work. This essay explores the challenges outlined above, with the intention of characterizing labour relations in the region, the shifts in the last three decades, as well as the future outcomes of this process. Countries in the region are not analyzed in depth, but rather a general panorama on the is presented. The following section briefly outlines the history of corporatism, the role of the State and the neoliberal period. Section three looks at the last decade of centre-left political processes. Section four takes care of the current agenda for labour relations and the possible paths to be taken. The final section provides concluding remarks.