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Everyday working lives in a transnational corporation in Mexico: The contradictory cooptation of trade unionists

  • Diana Mulinari
  • Nora rätzhel
  • Aina Tollefsen
Publishing year: 2011
Language: English
Pages: 379-399
Publication/Series: Economic and Industrial Democracy
Volume: 32
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: SAGE Publications Inc.

Abstract english

This article aims to contribute to the rich literature on neoliberalization and trade unions in Mexico by providing an examination of the contradictory relationships between capital, trade unions and the workers they represent, in a Swedish-based transnational corporation. The article investigates how the broader international relationships of dependency and exploitation are lived by workers and trade unionists in the everyday of a transnational corporation in Mexico, where the power of the trade unions has been undermined by politics of neoliberalization and by the demise of the ruling party, with which the unions are allied. Its thesis is that trade unions are changing from being power brokers between governments, companies and workers to becoming mediators of subordination to the company. While they still retain some of their power (for instance their participation in hiring and firing), they are becoming unable to secure work security and workers’ rights. In the everyday working life of a factory this means that unionists are torn between their need and wish to protect workers’ rights and their jobs as union officials. In this context, they experience a need to subordinate themselves and the workers they are supposed to represent to the strategy of the management. They employ a number of strategies to legitimate their existence, none of which appears to be very convincing to the workers. While the union’s strategies undermine their ability and that of the workers to organize for their rights, it also produces a dissatisfaction among workers that counters the company’s attempt to organize consent and motivation.


  • Gender Studies
  • transnational corporations
  • resistance
  • labour unions
  • gender


  • ISSN: 0143-831X
Diana Mulinari
E-mail: diana [dot] mulinari [at] genus [dot] lu [dot] se


Department of Gender Studies

+46 46 222 97 04


Department of Gender Studies
Visiting address: Allhelgona Kyrkogata 14, House M, Lund
Postal address: Box 117, 221 00 Lund, Sweden
Phone +46 46-222 00 00 (operator)
Fax: 046-222 40 04

Faculty of Social Sciences