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Working in hospitality and catering in Greece and the UK: do trade union membership and collective bargaining still matter?

Papadopoulos, Orestis ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5086-5086 and Ioannou, Gregoris (2022) Working in hospitality and catering in Greece and the UK: do trade union membership and collective bargaining still matter? European Journal of Industrial Relations. ISSN 0959-6801

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Abstract

Existing literature suggests that terms and conditions of employment are universally poor in hospitality and catering. Based on fieldwork comprising more than 70 semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted in the UK and Greece in 2018 and 2019, this article maps the field in the two countries and discusses the key parameters that structure working conditions, pay determination, and the impact of trade unionism and absence thereof. Poor working conditions and precariousness are prevalent in both contexts as expected, but surprisingly wages and other terms and conditions at least for a significant section of the hospitality workforce are comparatively better in Greece. An explanation for these findings is suggested with reference to the tradition of collective bargaining in hotels in Greece which partially survived the 2008 crisis and the legal reforms that followed. Trade unionism, despite its weakening and discrediting, has left its mark as a tradition contributing to the emergence of formal labour-based initiatives and more broadly to maintaining an openness to collectivism and collective action, more so than in the UK context. This combination of the distinct institutional and sectoral features of the Greek case and worker agency has served to ameliorate the context and content of employment for substantial sections of the hospitality workforce.

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