Travail et Emploi, 2017 Special Edition

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Under-paid Shop Stewards : A Case of Strategic Discrimination ? An Econometric Analysis Using 2010 REPONSE Data*
Jérôme Bourdieu, Thomas Breda

Instances of discrimination against union members continue to accumulate in France, as can be seen by the multiplication of legal proceedings and judgements against a number of large firms. This qualitative impression was underpinned by the statistical results from the 2004 French REPONSE (Relations professionnelles et négociations d’entreprise) survey (the equivalent of the British Workplace Employment Relations Survey), revealing that, at the same age and education, union representatives are paid around 10% less than their colleagues. We here confirm this result in the 2010 wave of the same survey. Union membership does not suffice to explain these lower wages : it is rather shop stewards, who are the most active in the defence of workers’ interests, who are the most heavily penalised. It is in practice difficult to establish that these workers receive lower wages for reasons other than their union responsibilities. The wage gap for union members who are not representatives is much smaller, at around 4%, while it is in firms that experience conflictual labour relations that shop stewards are paid the least.

Keywords : discrimination, wages, trade unions, worker representatives
JEL : J31, J52, J71
*Article published in French in Travail et Emploi, no145, janvier-mars 2016 / Article publié en français dans Travail et Emploi, n°145, janvier-mars 2016

An Exemplary Legal Battle against Union Discrimination at the Peugeot-Sochaux Plant (1995-2000)*
Nicolas Hatzfeld

The end of the 1990s will be remembered for the protracted legal battle between blue-collar CGT (Confédération générale du travail – General Confederation of Labour) union members and the management of the Peugeot-Sochaux car assembly site. A group of CGT-affiliated skilled workers wishing to expose a history of discrimination against trade union members finally decided to take legal action against the PSA management. Assisted by legal experts and lawyers dedicated to their cause, and after a series of initial legal proceedings via the usual channels, the scope and jurisdiction of the initial claim was extended and the group succeeded in proving the existence of systemic intentional discrimination towards union members. Not only would this successful outcome put an end to a policy of trade union repression spanning over three decades, it also threw fresh light on the relation between career advancement (or lack thereof) and union activity at local union level. Finally, this victory would serve as a model across the union movement as a whole.

Keywords : trade-union discrimination, repression, unionism, trade-union freedom, labour law, automobile industry, Peugeot
JEL : J52, J71, M51
*Article published in French in Travail et Emploi, no145, janvier-mars 2016 / Article publié en français dans Travail et Emploi, n°145, janvier-mars 2016

Procedural Flexibilisation of Labour Contracts in France and Italy. Diverging Reforms of Economic Redundancies*
Raphaël Dalmasso

The law on economic redundancies has recently been greatly reformed in France and Italy. The changes have shared the same common goal of making contract termination easier and surer. But their content is very different. Indeed, through procedural reforms, legislation in the two countries attributes different, and even opposing, roles to judges and litigation. In doing so, the reforms demonstrate that the goals of flexibility and security are not in fact legally unambiguous as far as economic dismissal is concerned.

Keywords : economic redundancy, procedural reform, judges, France, Italy, flexibility, comparison of legal systems
JEL : J63, J88, K31
*Article published in French in Travail et Emploi, no 142, avril-juin 2015 / Article publié en français dans Travail et Emploi, n° 142, avril-juin 2015

Forming a Medical Work-Object. The Case of General Medicine and Obstetrics*
Anne-Chantal Hardy

A work-object can be defined as what makes sense of an activity, i.e. that gives it both meaning and direction. In contexts where all doctors are specialists and perform very different tasks, is it possible to find a work-object that might be shared by the entire medical profession ? After challenging the concept of “work-object” and the various ways it can be analysed, the author attempts to grasp its most widespread characteristic, i.e. what doctors are taught during the first six years of medical school. She then goes on to dissect two medical specialties –general medicine and obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G)– and shows that a work-object, practically inseparable from the way it is taught, evolves differently in each discipline. This leads to discussing the link between practical and theoretical training, that could apply to all healthcare activity, and even beyond, to other professions.

Keywords : medicine, general practice, obstetrics, medical training
JEL : I1, J24
*Article published in French in Travail et Emploi, no 141, janvier-mars 2015 / Article publié en français dans Travail et Emploi, n° 141, janvier-mars 2015

The Impossible Confinement of Nuclear Work. Professional and Family Experiences of Subcontracted Workers Exposed to Radioactivity*
Marie Ghis Malfilatre

Based on an ethnographic study attentive to biographical careers, this article concerns how employees of subcontracting companies in the electronuclear industry and their female life partners relate to an occupation characterized by significant geographical mobility and an intrinsic exposure to radioactivity. These young men and couples invest in this line of work as an opportunity that requires a particularly delicate management of life outside of work for both members of the couple. Tolerated and managed for a time, it sometimes proves inadequate for averting occupational strain on the worker, and may even be a source of strain on the family. While workers and their partners are busy holding the relationship together despite the travel demands of the job, which prove to be increasingly burdensome, initially invisible workplace hazards end up causing problems and worry at home. Friends and family are once again exposed to the strains of nuclear work, and their support proves to be determinant as much in the dynamics of mobilizations for workplace health protection as in withstanding the ordeal of occupational illness.

Keywords : nuclear, subcontracting, geographical mobility, occupational health, family, occupational illness
JEL : L94, I19, J28
*Article published in French in Travail et Emploi, no 147, juillet-septembre 2016 / Article publié en français dans Travail et Emploi, n° 147, juillet-septembre 2016

Continuing Education : A Family Matter ?*
Vincent Lignon

Is there a statistical relationship between changes in family status and access to continuing education ? This article attempts to answer this question based on an empirical analysis of Emploi en continu (Continuous Employment) surveys conducted in France from 2003 to 2012. While the results show that for women childbirth is associated with a decrease in the likelihood of continuing education, they also suggest that children’s entry into the school system provides an opportunity for better educated people to participate more in company training. The formation and break-up of couples are also associated with gender inequalities in access to education : the break-up of a couple is negatively correlated with the probability of attending company training, especially for women who have custody of their children. For education offered by an employment agency, mostly aimed at the unemployed, it seems that what matters most is less the distribution of child custody than the employment status of the partners at the time of the break-up.

Keywords : continuing education, family events, inequalities
JEL : J12, M53
*Article published in French in Travail et Emploi, no 143, juillet-septembre 2015 / Article publié en français dans Travail et Emploi, n° 143, juillet-septembre 2015