Promising more to give less: International disputes between core and periphery around European posted labor, 1955–2018
Labor History 60(6) (2019): 749–764.
The posting of workers from the European periphery has generated the longest and most tumultuous series of labor disputes in the history of European Integration. On the basis of relevant archives, this article conducts the first historical review of posting rules in the European Union, from the first negotiation in 1955 until the latest directive in 2018. This historical review enables to discard the idea of a neoliberal turn in posting rules from the 1980s onward. It also leads to reject the explanation of disputes by the movement out of the European periphery under posting rules of a Lumpenproletariat insensitive to class struggle. Instead, the article identifies the increasing regulation of the labor market at the expense of posting opportunities since thirty years. It reveals the dominant role played by governments and their invariable support for their workers. It highlights the constant asymmetry of power between core richer countries and the Southern and Eastern periphery of the European Union. Eventually, this article locates the long-term problem in the contradictions between the interests of workers and firms in richer destination countries and the enlargements of the Single Market to poorer countries.