Purpose – As part of an ongoing project on worker well‐being, this paper aims to examine the application of flexible work arrangements through the experiences of core workers in a small, European‐owned, New Zealand manufacturing firm. Design/methodology/approach – A participatory action research approach is taken. Findings – The research reveals that flexible employment arrangements utilised in this firm did not afford protection to core workers as theory suggests. Both core and peripheral workers were exposed to pressure primarily to extend their hours of work and to reduce their expectations regarding remuneration. Production level increases were not reflected in increases in numbers of core workers; in fact perceived job security was low. Core workers felt pressure to work extended hours out of their commitment to the firm, each other, and to maintain their own employment. Practical implications – The use of more democratic processes inherent in action research oriented at workplace well‐being are shown to have had some value toward enhancing worker well‐being. Originality/value – The paper demonstrates that the participative project placed pressure upon management and that it had the potential to redress a power imbalance within the employment relationship.
Journal of Organizational Change Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 1, 2006
Keywords: Flexibility; Flexible labour; Labour utilization; Occupational health and safety; New Zealand