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Open access

Rafael Muñoz Bustillo Llorente

This chapter reviews the extent to which the digitalization of the economy is transforming the world of work, paying especial attention to the role played by social dialogue in helping to improve the governance of such changes. After presenting the major, actual or expected, impacts of “the Digital Revolution” on labour markets, we analyse the level of awareness and concern of social partners regarding these changes, and review the extent to which issues related to the Digital Revolution are being taken into consideration in social dialogue at different levels (European, national, sectoral or firm). With that aim, we undertake a short and selected journey around a sample of EU Member States, highlighting their experiences in this area, and discuss how some of the innovations related to the Digital Revolution could be used to revamp collective action by social partners in a kind of “Trade Union or Employee Organization 4.0”.

Open access

Youcef Ghellab and Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead

The profound change sweeping through the world of work involves four major drivers: technological innovation, demographic shifts, climate change and globalization. It poses serious challenges, but also opens new opportunities for social dialogue and the role of the social partners, together with public authorities, in the governance of the world of work. While social dialogue institutions and mechanisms, including collective bargaining, have long been a feature of European Union (EU) countries, sometimes for decades, questions have been raised about the ability of social dialogue to rise to the new challenges and opportunities, and deliver sustainable socio-economic outcomes. In this introductory chapter we present some of the comparative inputs provided by individual thematic and national chapters in this volume concerning how to enhance the social partners’ role in the new world of work: strengthen representativeness of employers’ and workers organizations and increase their membership; develop the sufficient space for autonomous social dialogue; boost digitalization on the policy agenda of employers’ organizations and trade unions. At the same time, this introductory chapter presents new and unique results from a survey carried out among national social partners about the capacity of their national social dialogue institutions to adjust to the new face of the world of work, and to formulate adequate and innovative responses to the rapid and deep transformations currently unfolding.

Open access

Oscar Molina

In this chapter we explore the role of social dialogue in addressing some of the most important challenges facing industrial relations institutions and actors in Spain, and how to enhance social partners’ capacity to face them. Social partners are well aware of the need to strengthen a number of capacities in order to be able to provide effective responses based on social dialogue. Enlarging the membership base is considered key from the trade union side, though no clear strategy has been developed so far. In the case of employer organizations, there are emerging issues in relation to determining representativeness, especially for new employer organizations. Finally, the chapter shows how, despite different perceptions on the main problems arising from digitalization and the ways to address them, trade unions and employers are building a shared space for autonomously regulating platform work through social dialogue.

Open access

Soňa Veverková

This text focuses on the role and capacities of Czech social partners in the new world of work. It presents the views of Czech social partners on representativeness, autonomy and digitalization, as well as other topical issues - over the past few years, Czech economy has faced a problem with a serious labour shortage, which might negatively affect the economic growth. This development has brought into the national social dialogue new hot issue, when social partners can´t come to a consensus, how to solve this.

Open access

Lorenzo Bordogna

Written before the Covid-19 crisis, the chapter, after summarizing the main features of the industrial relations system, examines through documentary analysis and interviews with protagonists how social partners and public authorities are responding to the challenges facing the system. Section 2 analyses social partners’ strategies to defend and strengthen their representative capacities. Section 3 illustrates the resilience of the traditional two-level bargaining system in a period of economic difficulties and low inflation, stressing, however, the contradiction between pressures toward decentralization and the persisting limited extension of second level negotiations, despite government incentives to promote it. It illustrates also the abnormal proliferation of national industry-wide collective agreements (‘pirate contracts’), linked to the still unresolved issue of the regulation of social partners’ representativeness in the private sector. The controversial issue of statutory minimum wage is examined as well. Section 4 analyses social partners’ initiatives to deal with digitalization. Section 5 presents brief case studies on these topics. Conclusions follow.

Open access

Heinz Koller

Open access

Ulrich Walwei, Lutz Bellmann and Christoph Bellmann

In Germany the influence of employers‘ associations and unions declined in terms of collective agreements at both the sectoral and the firm level, works councils and  membership. To assess the functioning of the German industrial relations system we consider the (I) the impact of a possible economic crisis on the labour market, (ii) the development of non-standard forms of employment and (iii) the search for new strategies in the area of structural change and digitalization. We focus on the interplay of state-level regulations and the industrial relations system. To mitigate the impact of economic crises the re-regulation of short-time working allowances was the decisive solution. The extensive changes through digitalization are not only a challenge for social partners but also for legislation regarding working time and supporting re-training.

Open access

Dominique Anxo

Despite a decline in union density over the last two decades, the Swedish social partners remain the main actors responsible for labour market norms and regulations affecting the terms and conditions of employment. The Swedish experience remains a good illustration of the positive “productive” role played by a developed bipartite social dialogue based on powerful and independent social partners, especially regarding the mitigation of potentially negative consequences of globalization, external macroeconomic shocks, rapid structural and technological changes, and the transformation of the world of work. The Swedish flexicurity regime, based on negotiated flexibility, creates a favourable institutional environment for negotiated compromises aimed at balancing flexibility, security, efficiency and social justice in an open economy strongly exposed to international competition and growing economic turbulence. The Swedish IR system has favoured growth-enhancing structural change, limited job polarization, and significantly contributed to the development of a knowledge-intensive economy, reinforcing the competitiveness of the Swedish economy and fostering full employment and balanced growth.

Open access

The New World of Work

Challenges and Opportunities for Social Partners and Labour Institutions

Edited by Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead, Youcef Ghellab and Rafael M. de Bustillo Llorente

Actors in the world of work are facing an increasing number of challenges, including automatization and digitalization, new types of jobs and more diverse forms of employment. This timely book examines employer and worker responses, challenges and opportunities for social dialogue, and the role of social partners in the governance of the world of work.
Open access

Christine Erhel

The chapter shows the evolutions of social dialogue in France until the COVID crisis and the general trend towards a more decentralized bargaining (in a maintained multi-level system), enabling more flexibility at the company level. Although their impact on the quality of social dialogue from both firms’ and workers’ point of view is difficult to evaluate, there are some signs of a more dynamic and sometimes innovative company level social dialogue. New issues have also been addressed, in relationship with digitalization, such as the right to disconnect, or teleworking.  There are also interesting efforts to include and represent platform workers, even though nothing has been transposed into law yet. However, social partners, and especially unions, remain quite fragile, as a consequence of a low unionization rate (especially among younger workers), of their division, but also of mixed workers’ perceptions. Workers’ participation might also be limited by some discrimination against unionized workers or more generally employee representatives. In this context of significant challenges, the issue of the attractiveness of trade unions to workers (and their acceptability to employers), as well as their public perception, appear to be a key issue for the future, together with the issue of the quality of social dialogue and its capacity to deal with labour market transformations related to digitalization and more generally innovation.