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Job quality, flexibility and obstacles to collective agency

Mendonca, Pedro



Tommy Isidorsson

Julia Kubisa


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.


Mendonca, P. (2018). Job quality, flexibility and obstacles to collective agency. In J. Kubisa, & T. Isidorsson (Eds.), Job Quality in an Era of Flexibility: Experiences in a European Context. Routledge.

Publication Date 2018-09
Deposit Date Aug 19, 2020
Publisher Routledge
Book Title Job Quality in an Era of Flexibility: Experiences in a European Context
Chapter Number 10
ISBN 9781138561595
Public URL