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N°167 (oct 2019)

English Abstracts

China. China’s rising international influence: Evidence of its internal social and economic contradictions?
Clément SÉHIER

This contribution aims to identify the economic thinking behind the growth of Chinese investments abroad: alongside their geopolitical aims, these investments are also an attempt to respond to the increasing internal social, political, and environmental contradictions of Chinese capitalism. The Chinese authorities are currently struggling to transition towards a sustainable socio-economic system. The assertion of Chinese power abroad may therefore be seen as an attempt to shift the excesses of its own development model onto the populations of other countries.

Keywords: Chinese capitalism, foreign investments, transition, development model.

Brazil. Healthcare system contradictions (1988-2018)

Jair Bolsonaro’s unexpected election victory surprised many observers, who are now concerned about Brazil’s future. In order to put recent events into context, this article examines Brazil’s public healthcare system, the Sistema Único de Saúde. The institution’s past problems (hybridization and under-financing) are preventing it from achieving its aim of universal healthcare, which the various successive political regimes have failed to tackle.

Keywords: public healthcare system, national healthcare system, universal healthcare, financing, private sector.

Brazil. The fortunes and misfortunes of universal basic income

This article offers an analysis of the development of the various legislative proposals for universal basic income introduced by the Brazilian federal legislator (and subsequently at the infra-national level) in the 1990s, and the debates behind them. It also seeks to determine why this initiative, finally adopted by the federal government in 2004, remains unimplemented to this day, in contrast with other poverty-alleviation measures promoted by the Workers’ Party, such as the Bolsa Família program.

Keywords: universal basic income, poverty, Bolsa Família.

Europe. The Congress of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) in Vienna: A more united confederation, but with fewer members

There was a strong sense of unity at the Congress of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) in Vienna. Much of this year’s program focuses on continuing the work of previous congresses and reflects the difficulty in reaching a consensus on controversial issues such as the minimum wage or government intervention to consolidate collective industry-level negotiation. For the first time, the Confederation elected not only a new, smaller Secretariat, but also a collective “Presidium” with a more active political role in order to prioritize action and to improve relations between the ETUC and its national affiliates.

Keywords: European Trade Union Confederation, International Trade Union Confederation, collective bargaining, minimum wage, unionization, transnational company-level collective agreements.

Ireland. The entry into force of the law banning zero-hour contracts: how does this help those in precarious employment?

In December 2018, the Irish government passed a law banning the use of zero-hours contracts other than in exceptional circumstances. Entering into force in March 2019, this law came in response to trade-union campaigning and reflects concerted government efforts to support workers subject to casual or precarious working arrangements This trade-union victory remains merely symbolic, however, as current legislation specifically only covers “employees” and not contracted workers without guaranteed working hours. Therefore, the risk of excluding the most vulnerable workers still needs addressing.

Keywords: zero-hours contracts, temporary workers, precarious employment, part-time work.