Labour commodification in the employment heartland: Union responses to teachers' temporary work
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This is an accepted manuscript of an article published by Sage in Work, Employment and Society on March 8, 2022 available online at 10.1177/09500170211069854 McGrath-Champ, S., Fitzgerald, S., Gavin, M., Stacey, M., & Wilson, R. (2022). Labour Commodification in the Employment Heartland: Union Responses to Teachers’ Temporary Work. Work, Employment and Society. © 2022 The Authors. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/09500170211069854
This article analyses the commodification of professional labour and union responses to these processes within the employment heartland. It explores the category of fixed-contract or ‘temporary’ employment using Australian public school teaching as the empirical lens. Established to address intensifying conditions of labour market insecurity, the union-led creation of the temporary category was intended to partly decommodify labour by providing intermediate security between permanent and ‘casual’ employment. However, using historical case and contemporary survey data, we discern that escalation of temporary teacher numbers and intensifying work-effort demands concurrently increased insecurity within the teacher workforce, constituting recommodification. The paper contributes to scant literature on unions and commodification, highlighting that within the current marketised context, labour commodification may occur through contradictory influences at multiple levels, and that union responses to combat this derogation of work must similarly be multi-level and sustained.
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