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Hagen Lesch / Sandra Vogel / Hannah Busshoff / Adam Giza IW-Analyse 19. December 2017 Expanding collective bargaining coverage

Declining collective bargaining coverage in Germany has prompted a debate on how the trend could be reversed. However, this debate makes no distinction between the coverage and the autonomy of collective bargaining.

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Expanding collective bargaining coverage
Hagen Lesch / Sandra Vogel / Hannah Busshoff / Adam Giza IW-Analyse 19. December 2017

Expanding collective bargaining coverage

IW-Analyse

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Declining collective bargaining coverage in Germany has prompted a debate on how the trend could be reversed. However, this debate makes no distinction between the coverage and the autonomy of collective bargaining.

The general assumption is that increasing coverage will automatically reinforce the right of employer and employee representatives to negotiate without government interference. Yet since this argument ignores the negative freedom of association – the right not to associate – it makes neither legal nor economic sense. It is competition from outsiders that ensures the appropriateness of a collective agreement, making the positive and negative freedoms of association equally necessary. Moreover, it is impossible to determine the optimal degree of collective bargaining coverage either theoretically or empirically. Although empirical research has identified various characteristics that influence the likelihood of an establishment choosing to be bound by collective agreements, these are mainly structural factors such as how a company is organised or the extent of its export business. The actual motives have not yet been sufficiently investigated. Policymakers would therefore be well advised to refrain from interfering with the autonomy of collective bargaining, and particularly from attempts to force companies into collective agreements. At the same time, the two sides of industry must face up to the need to expand their memberships and convince their members of the benefits of the German collective bargaining system.

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Expanding collective bargaining coverage
Hagen Lesch / Sandra Vogel / Hannah Busshoff / Adam Giza IW-Analyse 19. December 2017

Hagen Lesch / Sandra Vogel / Hannah Busshoff Adam Giza: Expanding collective bargaining coverage

IW-Analyse

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Download PDF
Hagen Lesch / Sandra Vogel / Hannah Busshoff / Adam Giza IW-Analyse 19. December 2017

Hagen Lesch / Sandra Vogel / Hannah Busshoff Adam Giza: Expanding collective bargaining coverage

IW-Analyse

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Conflict resolution through conciliation and mediation
Hagen Lesch / Christian Kestermann IW-Report No. 4 5. February 2020

Conflict resolution through conciliation and mediation

In the second half of 2019, collective bargaining was conducted in only five of the 19 sectors included in the German Economic Institut‘s wage monitoring system: In the chemical industry, construction, cleaning services, aviation and hospitals.

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Helena Schneider / Oliver Stettes / Sandra Vogel IW-Trends No. 3 31. October 2019

Industrial Relations and Transformation Processes

As digitalisation of the economy and society as a whole progresses, fears have been expressed that this rapid and sometimes disruptive technological change might prevent works councils from adequately representing employees and their concerns to management.

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