[Excerpt] Collective bargaining systems, frameworks and practices in the EU have come under some pressure in recent years. Against a steady, long-term decline in the numbers of companies and workers covered by a collective agreement, employer organisations and some politicians and experts argue that the collective bargaining system is too static and inflexible. They insist that companies need more room for manoeuvre to adapt, specify and also deviate from higher-level agreements to respond better to accelerated global competition. This pressure has increased since the 2008 crisis, when a number of EU Member States, in response to high unemployment rates, implemented labour reforms aimed at increasing competitiveness, productivity and job creation.
Against this background, this study aims:
- first, to map developments in all major aspects of collective bargaining (apart from pay and working time, which have been analysed separately by Eurofound) over the past 15 years and to put them in perspective in order to identify long-standing tendencies and trends as well as crisis-induced changes;
- second, to explore how and to what extent these developments and trends might be reflected, in one way or another, in collective bargaining in the coming years.
The study tries to provide a fresh look at existing but often fragmented evidence to identify similarities and differences in developments, as well as convergences and divergences, from the bird’s-eye rather than the worm’s-eye view.