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Why Trade Unions Oppose Basic Income

Vanderborght Yannick
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Vanderborght Yannick: Belgian Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS), and Hoover Chair, Université Catholique de Louvain

Basic Income Studies, 2006, vol. 1, issue 1, 1-20

Abstract: In most OECD countries trade unions remain key players in the field of welfare state reform. And yet, surprisingly little attention has been paid by proponents of a universal basic income (BI) to the very position of workers unions on the radical reform that they are advocating. This paper tackles this issue in three complementary ways. First, it offers a brief overview of the (scarce) literature on basic income and trade unions. Second, it focuses on plausible arguments that could be used by trade unions to oppose or, alternatively, support a basic income. Finally, empirical information collected in Belgium, Canada, and the Netherlands is used to test the robustness of the theoretical assumptions. These investigations demonstrate that trade unions are far from being natural allies of BI advocates within developed welfare states. As evidenced by the Belgian case, they can even constitute a significant obstacle to the political progression of the idea.

Date: 2006
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