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 12: Conclusion

Susan Hayter

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


Susan Hayter 12.1 INTRODUCTION Global economic integration intensified competitive pressures. In response, many enterprises introduced new forms of work organization and adopted more flexible employment practices (Ozaki, 1999). In some countries, this was accompanied by the individualization of employment relations as union membership declined. New technologies and more flexible work processes also opened up options for where and how to organize work. This, together with the increased mobility of capital tilted bargaining power in favour of employers. These and other factors associated with globalization present important challenges to collective bargaining and the regulation of wages, working conditions and employment relations through collective agreements. Yet as the various chapters in this volume demonstrate, collective bargaining remains a critically important means for ensuring that for workers, participation in the global economy is balanced, fair and just. Five important themes emerge out of the different contributions to this volume. The first concerns the role of governments. They need to play an enabling role, creating an environment within which meaningful collective bargaining can take place. The second theme relates to the role of collective bargaining in labour market governance. Contrary to the view that collective bargaining imposes a performance-inhibiting rigidity, in some countries with well developed industrial relations systems, collective bargaining provides a responsive and reflexive form of regulation. In developing countries, where industrial relations institutions are weaker, collective bargaining can be an important mechanism for monitoring statutory standards in organized sectors and enterprises, leaving the state to devote its limited resources to monitoring...

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