‘Tripartism takes the sharp edges off neoliberalism’ - ILO - 28 Dec. 2009

Especially during times of crises, strong tripatism supports the stability of a country. This is a major outcome of a recent ILO-study, titled ‘Blunting neoliberalism’. 

The study compares the impact of tripartism in labour relations between countries over the past fifteen years. Tripartism is the cooperation on labour issues between employers’ organizations, trade unions and governments. Tripartism is also reflected in the structure of the ILO itself. 

Editor Lydia Fraile explains that while tripartism does not alter the prevalent market-oriented trend, it does take off the sharper edges of those policies. 


Tripartism also supports economic efficiency and jobs. The mechanisms involved vary from country to country, but they include:

efforts to reduce dislocation, to moderate the pace or limit the scope of structural change;

measures to compensate losers and to promote adjustment through training and industrial policy;

policies that bolster worker rights and social protection;

efforts to avoid excessive income inequality.

Therefore editor Frail concludes that tripartism improves economic reforms by making them more equitable and politically sustainable.


The character of tripatism changed since it was introduced after the Second World War, says Fraile. From its original labour perspective, tripartism nowadays serves a largely defensive purpose. In this respect, it is considerably different from the immediate post war years, when trade unions exchanged a commitment to moderate wage demands for full employment policies and the development of comprehensive welfare states.


International Labour Office (ILO), Blunting neoliberalism: Tripartism and economic reform in the developing world, edited by Lydia Fraile. The interview, and more details on the book, including purchasing information, can be found here.

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