Negotiating for Social Justice
Edited by Susan Hayter
Chapter 2: Negotiating Employment Security: Innovations and Derogations
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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