Precariousness of employment: an analysis of the labour market status of MG Rover workers after plant closure

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2011)


closures, job precariousness


Economic restructuring and labour market adjustment has been am important feature of European economies in the past 25 years. Conventional accounts of facilitating “successful” adjustment are typically based on the advocacy of labour flexibility and mobility. However, successful labour market adjustment requires that issues of job quality should be addressed. This is particularly pressing for displaced workers who are often only able to obtain temporary and/or sub-standard (low-wage, low-skill) work after redundancy: there is evidence to suggest that individuals who subsequently obtain such work become ‘trapped’ in precarious cycles of intermittent work and unemployment.

This paper examines how the loss of 6,300 jobs from the closure of MG Rover at Longbridge (Birmingham) in the UK in April 2005 affected the employment and well-being of ex-workers. In so doing, the paper sheds light on the subsequent labour market activities of workers; in particular though exploring the precariousness of jobs entered into, using Standing’s (1997) typology of labour market insecurity - presenting an analysis of a longitudinal survey of 300 ex-MGR workers. The paper finds that whilst the great majority of workers could be argued to have successfully adjusted into re-employment, with positive findings in terms of re-training and education, significant issues remain in terms of security of income, job quality and representation at work – and hence that longer-term policy measures are needed to address these aspects of precariousness at work beyond the short-term emergency measures of the ‘Task force’ model.

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