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Labour Deployment in Plants in Canada and Sweden: A Three-Industry Comparison

Labour Deployment in Plants in Canada and Sweden: A Three-Industry Comparison

Joseph Smucker, Axel van den Berg, Michael R. Smith et Anthony C. Masi

Volume : 53-3 (1998)


In the debates about the relationship between labour flexibility and employment security, the actual strategies managers employ under different policy regimes tends to be overlooked. This paper examines the nature of deployment strategies that managers employ for their retained labour force in production plants in Canada and Sweden in three industrial sectors -- steel, pulp and paper and telecommunications. While Canadian managers have greater access to external markets and make greater use of layoffrecall strategies and overtime than their Swedish counterparts, deployment strategies within plants tend to require more formal negotiations, especially within unionized plants. Swedish managers can carry out changes in labour deployment in a more informal manner, particularly with respect to job responsibilities and new skills training. Swedish managers face more difficulties than their Canadian counterparts in altering quantities of labour.