Articles | Volume 57, issue 3
30 Sep 2002
 | 30 Sep 2002

Labour relations at the transition from Fordism to Postfordism, or : why are an increasing number of "foreign foreigners" employed in the Swiss hotel and catering industry today?

K. Schneeberger and P. Messerli

Abstract. In the present paper, we discuss a key factor in the entrepreneurial and regional capacity of innovation and competitiveness. By basing our arguments on regulation theory, we consider changes in domestic and foreign wage relations and their regulation as an expression and a reflection of flexible accumulation. In doing so, the dominant discussion of a labour market orientated towards innovation and competitiveness is given a critical dimension that focuses on the winners of the modernisation process as well as on possible losers of the flexibilisation.

We analyse the trend by using the hotel and catering industry as an example of an industry which assumes a pioneering role as far as the flexibilisation of the labour market is concerned. The Swiss example represents a national «development path», which is greatly challenged by the new conditions of competitiveness, giving rise to a strong call for a reduction in barriers that stand in the way of flexibilisation.

The empirical discussion is the result of qualitative interviews. It shows that the changes are characterised firstly by an increasing diversity of labour relations and secondly by an accenluated lower ethnic stratification of the labour market. Thirdly, the increasing diversity and the ethnic stratification are projected on the regulative level. Fourthly, the analysis leads to an expanded notion of regulation, which not only focuses on the conflict line between capital and labour, but also on the conflict line between ethnicities or nationalities (the dual regulation System). Finally, as a coexistence of Fordist and Postfordist labour relations is apparent, the impact of regulation theory is erilieally examined.