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Internal labour dynamics of a downsizing firm: The Swedish Tobacco Monopoly in the 1920s

Författare:
Publiceringsår: 2009
Språk: Engelska
Dokumenttyp: Konferensbidrag

Sammanfattning

Labour management in the past has been the studied by researchers from various disciplines and perspectives. Among labour economists and economic historians, there is an emerging current that aims to test hypotheses derived from theories about internal labour markets. So far, most studies have focused on companies whose workforces have been stable or expanding over time. This paper analyzes the internal labour market of a downsizing firm – the Swedish Tobacco Monopoly in the 1920s. The company, which employed both men and women, reduced its workforce by 60 percent over the course of the decade. The reduction was caused by changing composition of consumer demand and mechanization of cigar production. These two forces did not only bring about a need to reduce the workforce, but also to reallocate labour within the firm, which is the main focus of the present paper.
Transfers of workers between jobs were complicated by the gender division of labour and the preference for wage stability. Job bumping within the prevailing gender division of labour – transfers of skilled male workers to unskilled ‘male’ jobs – occurred on several occasions. Sometimes male hand cigar makers were also transferred to ‘female’ tasks, but not all borders could be crossed. For female workers, opportunities for transfers within direct production were greater and reallocations were to all appearances frequent.
There was a deeply rooted preference for wage stability among the tobacco workers. The union managed to include an article in the collective agreements stipulating that transferred workers were entitled to at least the same income level as before. This article was a more or less constant source of dispute between union and management. Raised hourly wages was the solution that eventually limited the income losses of transferred workers.

Disputation

Nyckelord

  • Business and Economics
  • tobacco industry
  • 20th century
  • downsizing
  • internal labour markets
  • Sweden

Övriga

Svenska ekonomisk-historiska mötet
2009-03-05/2009-03-07
Uppsala universitet, Uppsala
Unpublished

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