Industrial Relations in the New Europe

Industrial Relations in the New Europe

Enlargement, Integration and Reform

Edited by Peter Leisink, Bram Stejin and Ulke Veersma

This book presents an evidence-based assessment of the impact of EU enlargement on industrial relations and social standards in old and new EU Member States. It combines chapters which give an overview of the process of enlargement/integration and comparative socio-economic data at EU and national level, with chapters that present an in-depth analysis of the impact of European integration on national industrial relations. These in-depth analyses cover both a number of old EU Member States in Western Europe and new Member States in Central and Eastern Europe. The book combines supranational European, Western and Eastern perspectives on the impact of European integration.

Chapter 9: The End of an Era: Structural Changes in German Public Sector Collective Bargaining

Heiner Dribbusch and Thorsten Schulten

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, social policy and sociology, labour policy


Heiner Dribbusch and Thorsten Schulten INTRODUCTION Since the mid-1990s, industrial relations in Germany have shown strong tendencies towards decentralization and fragmentation of collective bargaining (Bispinck and Schulten 2003). At first sight collective bargaining in the public sector seems to have been an important exception to this development, showing a considerable degree of stability and continuity. Until 2005 there existed a rather centralized system, with national collective agreements covering all public service employees at federal, federal states and local level. This collective bargaining system centred around the idea of equal standards of pay and working conditions for all employees in the public sector. It was accompanied by an established culture of social partnership and an overall non-adversarial bargaining culture illustrated by the fact that there have been only two national strikes in the public sector since 1949. As in other European countries, however, the German public sector has been confronted with various challenges, such as increasing budget restraints, privatization and liberalization of public services or the introduction of New Public Management concepts. Enforced by the completion of the European Single Market, during the 1990s neo-liberal policies were successful in giving the public sector the reputation of being inefficient and out of fashion. Consequently, the mainstream policies have called for a ‘modernization’ of public services, which basically meant to make them function as private companies either by privatization or by internal restructuring. Until today there has been comparatively little research into the consequences of these developments on labour relations and collective bargaining...

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