Who Cares about Care Workers? Comparing Workers' Mobilisation in Three Marketised Care Sectors in the Netherlands

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Forehall (University of Glasgow)
Franca van Hooren , Political Science, University of Amsterdam
Marketization has characterized reforms of various segments of the Dutch care sector over the past two decades. For example: a 2005 Childcare Act introduced highly generous subsidies and created a completely privatized childcare sector; a 2007 regulation enabled private households to employ domestic workers at low costs; and between 2007 and 2015 a series of reforms decentralised and privatized home care services. These reforms have had massive implications for employment opportunities and working conditions in these sectors.

This paper investigates the political mobilisation of workers’ organizations and their impact before, during and after these reforms. How and to what extent have workers’ organizations been able to affect their employment opportunities and working conditions? The paper concentrates on the role of trade unions and their interactions with other groups, such as employers’ organisations, clients’ organizations and NGOs.

Based on an analysis of policy documents and interviews with involved union officials, union members, and policy makers, the paper shows that trade unions actively represented workers in all these sectors, including even a campaign on behalf of undocumented migrant domestic workers. Yet the extent and success of union mobilisation crucially depended on 1) whether unions could strike alliances with powerful employers’ and clients’ groups and 2) whether a specific cause could be used sufficiently for political credit claiming.

  • Presentation Van Hooren.pdf (1.3 MB)