Remarkably, the core element of labour relations¿wage determination¿has been
excluded from the European social dialogue about harmonisation of working
conditions and national systems of social security. The present study responds
by analysing the prospects of building up structures of wage formation in
Europe through a reevaluation of collective bargaining and collective
agreements as they exist under the law of the most industrialized Member
The impetus for the study is the widely debated crisis of the system of
concluding regional collective agreements on wages. Social partners seem to
have been trapped in fruitless conflicts on how the system must be reformed.
It has become obvious that no party concerned employers, trade unions, the
state has the capacity to resolve the growing difficulties of collective wage
In an introductory essay by the distinguished editors, this important study
takes the situation in Germany, the most prominent manifestation of this
European crisis, as its starting point. Then, academic experts from France,
the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Sweden describe comparable problems
in their own countries, detail approaches to dealing with them, and provide a
critical commentary, including judgements and suggestions in relation to the
German case. Then follows a reexamination of the situation in Germany in the
light of the experience of the other countries. A final chapter outlines some
preliminary interpretations of European prospects.
Salient issues investigated include the following:
the erosion of such ideological and legal categories and concepts as
`dependent work, `solidarity', `subsidiarity' and `social self-regulation' as
preconditions of traditional collective bargaining structures at national
the decreasing membership of the bargaining partners on both sides;
the shrinking rate of employees covered by collective agreements;
attempts to establish a national social pact;
increasing competition on global markets;
decentralizing management strategies, including the abandonment of collective
The authors examine the various state structures to determine if the legal and
institutional developments of the different national systems of collective
bargaining constitute starting points for mutual learning in order to meet the
new challenges. This leads to a discussion of which practices are successful
in their original environment, and how these practices might adapt to other
systems in other countries.
This ground-breaking study not only offers deep insights into how modern
economies can adapt to the demands of globalisation, but also demonstrates the
possibility of developing wage formation systems in different national
traditions by making use of specific national resources. It will be of
immeasurable value to professionals, academics, and officials in the relevant
areas of government, legal practice, jurisprudence, and labour relations.
List of Contributors. Foreword. Introduction. 1. Erosion or renewal?
The crisis of collective wage formation in Germany; T. Blanke, E. Rose.
2. France: The helping hand of the state; C. Vigneau, A. Sobczak.
3. The British case: Before and after the decline of collective wage
formation; B. Bercusson, B. Ryan. 4. The Netherlands: In the
tradition of intersectoral pacts; A.T.J.M. Jacobs. 5. Sweden:
Transition through collective bargaining; K. Ahlberg, N. Bruun. 6.
Ideas and suggestions: Input for the German debate; E. Rose. 7.
Outlook: Chances of European harmonization or coordination of collective wage
formation; T. Blanke. Annex.