Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


New Understanding of European Work Organization (NUEWO), Final Report

Project ID: HPSE-CT-1999-00009


The purpose of the NUEWO project was develop a better understanding of the driving forces and consequences of the changing use of contingent labour for workers, employers, trade unions and the organisation of work in various industries. Contingent employment is here used as a unifying concept for all types of employment relationships that may be terminated with minimal costs from the point of view of the employer. This includes employees working on limited duration contracts (LDCs) and working through temporary work agencies (TWAs).
The study was conducted in four European countries (Sweden, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom and Spain) and the United States. Furthermore, five industries (health care, food manufacturing, financial services, information and communication technology (ICT) and the temporary work agency industry) were studied by conducting sector overviews and case studies.
The comparison shows that common for the use of contingent labour on all levels of analysis is the relationship to transitions or dynamics, whether it is dynamics in the labour market, product markets or at the organisational level. However, there are important differences between countries and industries in terms of negotiating power for workers in different labour market segments. We argue that the institutionalisation of contingent employment relationship at the work place level is in itself a driving force for the increasing use of contingent labour. The dynamics that takes place when temporary agency workers are introduced at a workplace is important. On the one hand, there are processes of change that may be reversible, which means that the use of contingent labour may increase temporarily. On the other hand, there are irreversible processes of change that contribute to changes in the organisation of work. Administrative routines and HR polices are developed and collective agreements between trade unions and employers are negotiated.

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