chapter  2
20 Pages


ByMichael White

The 1990s have begun in a ferment of political change. In 1990, the advent of the Single European Market seemed momentous enough to fill one decade, but even this has been crowded out of attention by events in the former USSR, Eastern Europe and South Africa. At home, meanwhile, the political certainties of the 1980s have collapsed, leaving the field open to whoever can correctly read or mould the new mood of the electorate. The most obvious way that these changes will affect labour markets is through the different economic maps they draw. There will be new markets, new partnerships, new competitors, new economic opportunities for the international movement of labour. This will lead to both opportunity and risk. Harder to predict are the changes in attitudes and motives which both propel and are shaped by the changes in the political climate. The workings of the labour market, and the scope for policies to make labour markets work in particular ways, depend on what people think and do in regard to such matters as wages, profits, welfare, equity, effort, innovation and enterprise. The more willing they are to change their stance on these matters, the greater is the scope for economic change.