Challenges for Workers and Unions
Edited by Carole Thornley, Steve Jefferys and Beatrice Appay
Chapter 10: The Increasing Use of ‘Market’ Concepts in Negotiations, and Contextualizing Factors
Jens Thoemmes INTRODUCTION This chapter is based on a series of research projects on the negotiation of working time relating to company-level agreements in France (and in other European countries) from the early 1990s. Collective bargaining between employers and trade unions has profoundly changed the working conditions of companies. We propose to trace this change from what we have achieved over fifteen years of research in this field. Our aim is to deepen the theory of negotiation with particular respect to the role collective bargaining on working time plays in organizational structuring. Collective bargaining in French companies is framed by legislation. We therefore address the whole process of regulation of working time, which combines the activities of trade unions, employers and the state. Our theoretical framework draws first on the theory of social regulation (Reynaud, 1979), and then on the theory of organizational work, developed by Gilbert de Terssac. De Terssac (2003a) argues that work also involves organizing; the organizational component cannot be separated from the productive. The usual distinction between the work of management viewed as organizational work, and the execution of work as productive work without an organizational dimension, is meaningless. On this theory, collective bargaining can be considered as work that takes place in the productive sphere, which itself is characterized by a relationship of subordination. In this sense the work of negotiators produces social change, and modifies working conditions. Our chapter aims to focus on this change. The negotiation process developed over a period of 150...
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