This chapter argues that disengagement with participative processes of social dialogue has been a notable feature of recent minimum wage reforms in Greece and the UK. In Greece, the government actively dismantled collective bargaining institutions under pressures from international credit bodies represented by the Troika and replaced a longstanding bipartite process of minimum wage fixing with unilateral statutory intervention, featuring a 22 percent cut in 2012 and subsequent freeze. Negotiations during 2016-17 between the Greek government and its international creditors are likely to conclude in either reasserting bipartite bargaining or introducing tripartite dialogue in minimum wage fixing. Since its inception the UK minimum wage fixing process has only had a weak element of tripartite decision-making, represented in the composition of members of the independent Low Pay Commission, the body that fixes the minimum wage each year. However, from 2016 this element of tripartism was curtailed when the government changed its approach and announced a new unilateral approach to fixing an adult ‘premium rate’. This reduced tripartite influence to workers aged under 25 years old only. The risk is that the minimum wage becomes further isolated from other wage-setting procedures in the economy, diminishing the prospects to address problems of wage inequality through social dialogue.
This book presents new theories and international empirical evidence on the state of work and employment around the world. Changes in production systems, economic conditions and regulatory conditions are posing new questions about the growing use by employers of precarious forms of work, the contradictory approaches of governments towards employment and social policy, and the ability of trade unions to improve the distribution of decent employment conditions. Designed as a tribute to the highly influential contributions of Jill Rubery, the book proposes a ‘new labour market segmentation approach’ for the investigation of issues of job quality, employment inequalities, and precarious work. This approach is distinctive in seeking to place the changing international patterns and experiences of labour market inequalities in the wider context of shifting gender relations, regulatory regimes and production structures.