Call for papers: New Forms of Day Labour Work?

An international workshop on the historical development of temporary work agencies from a global perspective

Stockholm 15 March 2012

It is with great pleasure that the Research Committee of the Labour Movement Archive and Library and the Centre for Labour History, Landskrona wish to announce a workshop on the history of temporary work agencies. The workshop will take place on 15 March 2012 in Stockholm, Sweden.

The aim of the proposed workshop is to explore relations between unions, employers and temporary work agencies as well as the consequences of temporary work for workers’ power from a historical perspective. The workshop is intended to bring together union activists and researchers, in the hope that this will inspire future research while also addressing a topic of great relevance for the trade union movement

The issue of temporary work agencies has become very prominent in union debates during recent years. However this debate is not a new one. Different forms of hired labour have threatened job security and have therefore been a union issue from the very beginning. The global division of labour has gone through profound changes during the last decades and recent development is characterized by buzzwords such as flexibility and efficiency, but also global competition. Companies in the north Atlantic region have reduced their permanent workforces and temporary work agencies have become important suppliers of labour. Both permanently employed workers and agency employed workers have experienced threatened job security accompanied by a loss of union power. Moreover it is more difficult to organize both groups of workers in local unions, although they are doing the same job. In other words, the growth of temporary work agencies as a global phenomenon raises questions about job security, solidarity and the development of union strategies. Historians have not yet tackled these questions in any depth.

Papers analysing the historical development of relations between unions and temporary work agencies or their predecessors with a focus on one of the following issues are welcome:

  • Local, national and international union strategies towards temporary work agencies and their predecessors
  • Local, national and international laws, agreements or conventions concerning temporary work agencies
  • mobilization and organisation of agency employees by unions
  • temporary work agencies as a global phenomenon

Abstracts should be no longer than 400 words and sent no later than 10 November 2011 to silke.neunsinger (at)

Authors will be informed whether their paper has been accepted no later than the end of December 2011. Proposals for full panels including chair and commentator are welcome, as are individual papers. We would also very much like to hear from researchers working in this field who know already at this stage that they will not be able to attend the conference. Final drafts of workshop papers are due by 10 February 2012.

The conference language is English.

If you have further questions, comments or ideas, please contact:

  • Silke Neunsinger
  • Lars Berggren