Through the lens of labour politics, Paul G. Buchanan and Kate Nicholls explore the economic and political fortunes of organised labour in Australia, Chile, Ireland, New Zealand and Uruguay between 1975 and 2000. Following a methodological and theoretical introduction, the study groups together Australia and Chile, then New Zealand and Uruguay, as cross-regional pairs before turning to consider Ireland as an extra-regional and atypical case. The conclusion is that four specific factors have impacted on the ability of trade unions to shield their members against the negative consequences of economic reform and labour market 'flexibilisation': international economic and geographical location; the prior history of political insertion; pre-existing labour market institutions; and the ideological and organisational outlook of the union movement itself.

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