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Keywords:

  • labour geography;
  • scale;
  • governance;
  • production

This paper addresses two main debates: the recent geographical literature on trade union strategy and structure, and contemporary accounts of European labour market governance. Geographers have begun to take notice of organized labour just as it has faced a series of unprecedented challenges, which are partly derived from ongoing changes in the organization of production. In interpreting these debates I focus on the process of scaling – the ways in which the politics of labour market governance are constituted in, and are at the same time constitutive of, one geographical scale or another. These issues are explored through two key recent developments: the changing status of the European Trade Union Confederation, and the creation of European Works Councils. The ETUC and EWCs are particularly significant because they pose a challenge to existing arrangements, and potentially enable a re-configuration of the relation between capital and labour at different scales. I conclude that further exploration of European labour geography could re-connect the diversity of forms of organization of production with the scope and potential of trade union strategy; and that thinking in terms of scale is useful because it highlights the significance of both political and relational issues.