Job quality, flexibility and obstacles to collective agency

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter empirically examines the way job quality is dynamically shaped by the employers and trade unions in a large bottling hall in Scotland. In particular, this chapter analyses how trade unions are able or unable to influence and regulate flexible working schemes in the workplace in order to improve job quality. Qualitative data was gathered from a single case study, operating in the Scottish Spirits Industry and subject to intense market fluctuations. The data was obtained from twenty eight semi-structured interviews and three focus groups conducted to managerial staff, shop-floor workers and union representatives. The findings highlight a high level of flexible working schemes adopted by the employer in order to cope with market pressures. Flexibility is imposed in the workplace by logics of the "market" that management presented as requiring no justification other than its own existence. The local trade union present in the workplace resulted to be unsuccessful at regulating the employer’s flexible working schemes. Such outcome is explained by a partnership agreement dominated by the employer, and high levels of workforce fragmentation affecting the union’s structural power.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Job Quality in an Era of Flexibility
Subtitle of host publicationExperiences in a European context
EditorsTommy Isidorsson, Julia Kubisa
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780203710678
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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