The Role of Collective Bargaining in the Global Economy

The Role of Collective Bargaining in the Global Economy

Negotiating for Social Justice

Edited by Susan Hayter

This book examines the ways in which collective bargaining addresses a variety of workplace concerns in the context of today’s global economy. Globalization can contribute to growth and development, but as the recent financial crisis demonstrated, it also puts employment, earnings and labour standards at risk. This book examines the role that collective bargaining plays in ensuring that workers are able to obtain a fair share of the benefits arising from participation in the global economy and in providing a measure of security against the risk to employment and wages. It focuses on a commonly neglected side of the story and demonstrates the positive contribution that collective bargaining can make to both economic and social goals. The various contributions examine how this fundamental principle and right at work is realized in different countries and how its practice can be reinforced across borders. They highlight the numerous resulting challenges and the critically important role that governments play in rebalancing bargaining power in a global economy. The chapters are written in an accessible style and deal with practical subjects, including employment security, workplace change and productivity, and working time.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Susan Hayter

Subjects: economics and finance, labour economics, social policy and sociology, economics of social policy


Susan Hayter Collective bargaining is a process of negotiation between the representatives of an employer (or employers) and of workers.1 The intention of these negotiations is to arrive at a collective agreement that will govern the employment relationship.2 This typically covers issues such as wages, working time, and other working conditions. Since collective agreements also regulate labour relations they are likely to address the rights and responsibilities of the respective parties. Collective bargaining is premised on a well defined employment relationship and the freedom of workers and employers to associate to an organization that represents their interests. It is a means to address work-related issues in a way that accommodates the interests of all parties concerned. Collective bargaining involves a process of joint decision making and is thus distinct from other forms of governance such as government regulation, individual contracts and/or the unilateral decisions of employers. 1.1 NEGOTIATING FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE The origins of collective bargaining can be traced to the industrial revolution in the 18th and early 19th centuries, a period of profound technological, economic and social change that started in the United Kingdom and then spread to Western Europe, North America, and other parts of the world (Kaufman, 2004). The transition from manual home-based to mechanized factory-based production dramatically increased the intensity of production and transformed labour relations. At the same time demographic changes and the steady flow of people from the countryside to industrial cities led to a rise in the numbers of people available to work...