Labors Role in and Reaction to Reforms

     The postwar period in Latin America was marked by the formation of populist labor parties that entrenched state intervention and protectionism (Murillo, 2000). While focusing on three countries, namely Argentina, Venezuela and Mexico, Murillo analyses the antagonism that emerged in the 1980s between labor parties and their union allies.

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   The cause of contention was reforms that were market-oriented. Interactions between governing labor parties and labor unions varied across each country. Some labor unions obtained labor concessions but others did not. Some unions endorsed radical neoliberal reforms while others rejected them in totality.

     Another way of looking at reactions among labor unions to labor reforms is analyzing different social classes, just like the way Portes and Hoffman (2003) do it. They have assessed and presented evidence for the evolution of the Latin American class structures for the last two decades.

     Among the highlights that have marked evolutionary changes over these two decades according to Portes and Hoffman include income inequality, growth in micro-entrepreneurship and stagnation of informal proletariat. The impacts of these changes are explored in detail. The adaptive strategies identified here are the increase in violent crime and emigration. What follows is a lengthy discussion of the impact of these changes on the class structure and by extension, the manner in which popular mobilization strategies are conceived and implemented by Latin American politicians

     Lack of organized channels through which the citizenry can participate in political decisions is what Murillo and Schrank (2005) blame most for Latin American labor unionism problems. This is why electorates in this region are often considered “informal”. Easing the labor market rigidities is pointed as one of the best ways of reforming the labor sector.

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