Gender and the European Labour Market, edited by Francesca Bettio , Janneke Plantenga and Mark Smith . Routledge, London, 2013, 248 pp., ISBN: 978 0 415 66433 2, £85.00, hardback.

AuthorLena Hipp
Publication Date01 Jun 2014
Scandinavian countries) contained an important element of worker involvement not
advocated by Robens, namely elected employee/worker safety and health represen-
tatives. Research in Europe and Australia has tended to find that this development
was one of the most significant elements of ‘post-Robens’ OHS regulation, and in a
number of jurisdictions, these representatives have the power to issue provisional
notices, including suspending work they deem to pose a serious risk to worker health.
In another irony (given Robens’ background), the historical precursor to this regime
(predating it by a century) was the system of industry/union and worksite worker/
check inspectors in the mining industry in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and
elsewhere, who possessed (and continue to in Australia and New Zealand) stronger
regulatory powers to suspend operations on safety grounds. Leaving mining to one
side, Hilgert’s book could have been enhanced by exploring this mechanism and the
very rich (mainly European and to a lesser extent Australian) literature on safety
representatives and worker involvement more generally. Compared with direct par-
ticipation, representative mechanisms like the safety representative regime generally
afford workers with greater say, more protection from retaliatory action, and
training/expertise to help in confrontations over what is unsafe. It is not a perfect
system, and it too has been affected by union decline (unions provide essential
logistical support to safety representatives) and changes to work organization. None-
theless, this option warranted more consideration. If nothing else, it reinforces the
point that the resolution of OHS issues like refusing unsafe work relies in part on
strengthening collective worker organization and targeting the work structures that
undermine any real form of worker involvement in safety.
I raise these points not so much as a criticism of Hilgert’s excellent book but as a
suggestion with regard to issues that should be addressed in future research. Gener-
ally, the book is well presented. One minor quibble I did have was that the Interna-
tional Labour Organization has its spelling Americanized to the International Labor
Organization — easier for an American publisher but incorrect.
In sum, this is a valuable book on an important but neglected subject. It will
promote attention on the right to refuse unsafe work and is further evidence of the
critical contribution Quebec-based scholars have made and continue to make to OHS.
Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales
Gender and the European Labour Market, edited by Francesca Bettio, Janneke
Plantenga and Mark Smith. Routledge, London, 2013, 248 pp., ISBN:
978 0 415 66433 2, £85.00, hardback.
Increasing women’s employment and promoting gender equality have been two major
policy goals of the European Employment Strategy (EES), which was launched 25
years ago. The EES has since been modified several times, and Europe has faced its
most devastating crisis since World War II. So, where does Europe stand today?
Gender and the European Labour Market, edited by Francesco Bettio, Janneke
Plantenga and Mark Smith, seeks to answer this question by assembling a broad array
of empirical studies and policy-oriented chapters capturing the persistent and multi-
faceted nature of gendered labour market inequalities. These include contributions on
trends in paid and unpaid work, flexible work arrangements, occupational sex segre-
gation, working hours, social care provisions and various policy measures on the
394 British Journal of Industrial Relations
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/London School of Economics.

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