Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Roundtable on re-imagining forms and approaches to workplace representation: Introduction

Document type Article
Author Slinn, Sara
Author Archer, Simon
Journal Canadian Labour and Employment Law Journal
Volume 20
Date 2017
Pages 101-106


The nature of work has undergone tremendous change in recent decades, and these changes have been well documented and widely debated. Similarly, the adequacy of regulation and institutions of work to operate in the face of these transformations has been questioned. Much attention has been devoted to the condition of this decline. Work and workplaces have been reorganized (in one memorable phrase, "fissured"),' increased intermediation in the traditional employment relationship has made it more difficult to identify the "real employer," and fewer "employees" exist, as precarious work and contracting-out of work has grown. These workers are more difficult to organize, and labour and employment relations regulatory schemes have failed to respond robustly or effectively to these changed conditions. Equal attention has been paid to the causes of the decline in union density: the "globalization of production" through technological and communications innovations, the offshoring of work (even work previously thought to be impervious to this trend), the expansion of the financial sector and the proliferation of its meth- ods and values into the productive or "real" economy (a process called financialization), the privatization of formerly public goods and services, and the reorganization of firms to (re)focus on "core competencies" and contract out peripheral functions. Even if all of these possible causes were overcome, workers' attitudes toward traditional organizations such as unions and even toward workers' identities as such have also changed profoundly, and organizing worker voice and collective bargaining has become more challenging.