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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The political and economic weakness of the trade unions allowed other actors to disregard them for a long part of the early post-war period. This, coupled with looser regulation than elsewhere in Europe, fostered the emergence of a relatively informal and pluralistic system of union representation. This system is highly adaptable, but it also engenders short-termism and unpredictable behavior. The industrial relations system may lack formal institutionalization, but in practice unions have always been extensively involved in the implementation of social policies and the administration of welfare programs. While unions were effectively excluded from economic policy choices until the late 1970s, since then dialogue with public authorities and employers’ associations on labor related matters has become the norm. Unions remain highly flexible entities but are now growing increasingly reliant on institutionalized industrial relations to contain the growth of sub-standard positions in the labor market.

Keywords: trade unions, industrial relations, political system, short-termism, social policies, welfare programs

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