European Journal of Political Research, vol. 49, 2010, p. 223-256
This article shows that the trade unions are losing ground in pension politics in Switzerland and Germany because new conflict lines have emerged. On the one hand, pension reforms still deal with 'old' distributional issues such as the overall level of benefits. On the other hand these reforms include policies that respond to the particular needs of postindustrial risk groups. These new risk groups do not belong to the traditional trade union clientele and the policies targeted towards them often involve value considerations about gender equality and societal modernisation instead of the purely distributional considerations that have been the core concerns of organised labour since the industrial era. The emergence of this postindustrial conflict dimension weakens the traditional alliance between the unions and left-wing political parties. Consequently, organised labour loses ground.