Transfer stimulates dialogue between the European trade union movement and the academic and research community. It contributes research findings on issues of strategic relevance for trade unions, in particular with regard to developments at the European level. Transfer publishes original peer-reviewed research on issues such as new developments in industrial relations, social policy, and labour market developments.

Volume 12 Issue 2, Summer 2006

The increasing mobility of services and posting of workers between the new Member States and the old EU/EEA Member States after 1 May 2004 has stirred controversial debates about the impact of enlargement on labour market conditions and regulations in Europe. The transformation of the EU from a club of countries with fairly elaborate labour and welfare regimes to an arena for ‘globalisation in one continent’ implies a significant shift in the conditions for national labour market governance. With a nominal East-West wage gap between 1:10 and 1:5, the growing cross-border mobility of service providers, hiring firms and posted workers has caused fiercer regime competition and challenged established notions of fair competition and equality. Accentuated by the referendums over the EU Constitution, by the proposed EU Services Directive, and by highly charged, transnational labour disputes – the Laval-Vaxholm, Irish Ferries and Viking cases – these dynamics have triggered political mobilisation and disagreement about the relationship between free movement, social regulation and basic rights in the single market. The rights of posted workers – that is, workers sent by their employer to undertake work in another Member State in the context of a temporary service contract – have thus, partly thanks to the ‘Polish Plumber’, become an issue crystallising virtually the whole range of conflicting interests, principles and political ideas in the European project. In this special issue of Transfer we are proud to offer articles from leading specialists in the field, analysing the regulatory frameworks, trends, experiences and responses related to the proliferation in the posting of workers in the enlarged Europe. Unfortunately, we have no articles on posting in the new Member States, or from a sender perspective, but we hope to remedy this bias in future issues of Transfer.

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