REVAL - From internal devaluation to the revaluation of work: the case of Portugal

September 15, 2018 to March 14, 2022
42 months

This project addresses the transformations of the employment regime that took place in Portugal in the context of global economic restructuring of the last decades and its consequences in respect to employment and work. The deleterious impacts on work of the growing internationalization of production and concomitant financialisation have been salient in a country vulnerable to delocalization of production, macroeconomic imbalances and indebtedness. These impacts reached their zenith with the Global Financial Crisis and ensuing "troika" financial bail-out in 2011. At the
time a reconfiguration of employment regime aimed at internal devaluation was spelled out in the troika's Memoradum
and implemented, affecting institutions and rules governing employment protection, working time arrangements, unemployment benefits and collective bargaining.
Building on previous research that characterized the institutional reconfiguration associated with internal devaluation as a regressive one that amounted to a transfer of income from labor to capital and to a change of power resources unfavorable to organized labor, the project intends to broaden this research in two different ways. First, it extends the assessment of devaluation of work to key dimensions of the quality of employment and working conditions that might have been directly deteriorated as a result of the reconfiguration of employment regime (in particular wages, working
time and job security). Second, by analyzing actors' strategies and power resources at national, sector, and company level it pin points long term consequences of internal devaluation its drivers, and means to counteract them.
The project conjectures that the institutional reconfiguration of the Portuguese employment regime and internal devaluation may have accelerated a process of cumulative devaluation of work involving loss of competences and skills, investment retrenchment, increasing inequalities, and demographic decay, whose relations and drivers are important to disentangle in order to understand the nature and consequences of devaluation. This conjecture is also examined with focus on the variegated sectoral impact of internal devaluation looking at particular industries with different economic and industrial relations conditions. Eventually, the adaptation (and strategies) of firms to the new institutional environment is examined, researching the extent to which by exploiting new competitive advantages - in particular of its new labor regulatory conditions - their behavior is driving or counteracting the above mentioned cumulative trend.

The REVAL project is committed to contribute to the conception of a strategy of revaluation of work that, by acting upon the critical leverages identified, may reverse the circular and cumulative process of devaluation of work.