chapter  10
30 Pages

Union growth and reversal in newly industrialized countries: the case of South Korea and peripheral workers

WithDavid Peetz, Neal Ollett

In Western industrialized countries, the rise of trade unions took place during a phase of capitalist expansion which was characterized by employment patterns that were dominated by the standard, full-time employment model comprising long hours worked by employees over the great majority of the calendar week. Unions emerged as bodies representing the interests of those workers and fought, amongst other things, to reduce the standard working week from 48 hours per week to 44 hours, 40 hours (Hagan 1983:42) and, in many countries, even less. In recent years, union membership has been threatened by, amongst other things, the growth of non-standard or peripheral forms of employment, characterized by part-time working hours, temporary or ‘casual’ forms of engagement, and low union density. The relative growth of peripheral employment has been a significant factor in union decline in a number of Western countries.