Irish Butchers Rather than Irish Meat: Trade Union Responses to Agency Work in Sweden
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2010

Trade unions are often considered as being against the use of agency workers in the workplaces that they represent. As opposed to standard permanent employment, temporary agency work is often regarded as a more precarious form of work that serves the purposes of employers seeking to reduce labour costs, enhance flexibility and avoid employment regulation. However, trade unions may also see benefits of using agency workers as experience of them increases. When examining how agency workers are established in an organization, the mechanisms available to resolve inconsistencies between the perceived benefits and disadvantages needs to be recognized. Rather than conceiving of trade unions as being opposed or in favour of the use of agency workers, the analysis of trade union responses needs to be grounded in a different perspective. This article is an attempt to formulate such a perspective on trade union responses to agency work as being based on understanding the process of establishment rather than polarized responses. The argument is supported by an empirical study of a food manufacturing company in Sweden that increasingly turned to agency workers as a source of labour.

temporary agency work

institutional logics

trade unions


Ola Bergström

Göteborgs universitet

Alexander Styhre

Göteborgs universitet

The Journal of Industrial Relations

0022-1856 (ISSN) 1472-9296 (eISSN)

Vol. 52 4 477-490



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