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 2: Negotiating Employment Security: Innovations and Derogations

Steffen Lehndorff and Thomas Haipeter

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


Steffen Lehndorff and Thomas Haipeter 2.1 INTRODUCTION In the face of imminent redundancies, the bulk of negotiations that have taken place over past decades have dealt with ways to smooth job cuts through measures such as severance pay or early retirement. A brief look into any database on industrial relations confirms that the issue of how to cut back on jobs continues to feature prominently on collective bargaining agendas. By contrast, this chapter highlights attempts to circumvent or diminish redundancies, to save jobs and reduce employment insecurity. While this approach continues to be less common than the traditional mainstream method of easing ways into unemployment, it has become more important over the past two decades. The economic crisis that unfolded in 2008 has pushed endeavours to save jobs, rather than smooth redundancies, to the top of the agenda. Thus, a look at earlier negotiations on employment security may provide useful insights into the potential of collective bargaining in this respect. While there is no doubt that the jobs situation since late 2008 has been particularly threatening, experience gathered over the past few decades offers some important lessons. The arguably most simple and basic amongst these lessons serves as a starting point for the present chapter: there is no “best way”. There are a number of challenges and contradictions associated with collective bargaining on employment security. The first challenge concerns the balance of power. In the wake of the end of the “golden age” of post-war capitalism in the advanced industrialized...

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