The Role of Collective Bargaining in the Global Economy
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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.
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Chapter 5: Workplace Change and Productivity: Does Employee Voice Make a Difference?

Fathi Fakhfakh, Virginie Pérotin and Andrew Robinson


Fathi Fakhfakh, Virginie Pérotin and Andrew Robinson1 5.1 INTRODUCTION Workplaces have undergone major technological and other changes in many countries in recent decades, as entire industries were being restructured in response to global competition, with industrialization, in the transition from central planning to markets and with the advances of information technologies. The primary purpose of workplace changes involving technology, work organization and/or new products generally is to improve performance. International empirical evidence suggests that performance does improve as a result of introducing this type of change (see, for example, Ogawa 2007, Antoncic et al. 2007, Goedhuys et al. 2008). Such changes are likely to have a substantial impact on employees’ working conditions. Employees may be required to adapt to new methods, learn new skills, or work at a faster pace. Workplace change may be exciting. It may open up new career perspectives and avenues for employees to develop their creativity. It may improve job security if performance is improved. Yet change may also be associated with more intense work, increased stress and the fear of job cuts as certain skills become redundant. Involving employees or their representatives in change processes and providing them with a “voice” (Freeman 1976; Freeman and Medoff 1984) make it possible to take into account the workforce’s interests in the decisions that are made. Change may be facilitated as a result and have a stronger positive impact on performance. However, it is often argued that labour unions promote restrictive practices that cut productivity and resist...

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