Towards Socially Sensitive Corporate Restructuring? Comparative Remarks on Collective Bargaining Developments in Germany, France and Italy

By Boni, Guido | International Labour Review, June 2009 | Go to article overview

Towards Socially Sensitive Corporate Restructuring? Comparative Remarks on Collective Bargaining Developments in Germany, France and Italy


Boni, Guido, International Labour Review


Abstract.

Rapidly changing markets in the context of globalization call for increasingly frequent restructuring to sustain the competitiveness of individual firms. To meet this need while minimizing consequent job loss, the social partners in major European countries have devised a variety of decentralization mechanisms that enhance local-level flexibility without fundamentally calling into question the traditional national models of collective bargaining. Analysing the use of "opening clauses" in German industry agreements, France's firm-level "derogation agreements" and mandatory bargaining on "workforce planning", and Italy's tripartite "territorial agreements ", the author concludes with a plea for a supranational framework to support socially sensitive restructuring across Europe.

European industrial relations are undergoing profound structural changes, which are having a significant impact on how firms and employees react to corporate restructuring at country level. Against this background, this article offers a comparative analysis of Germany, France and Italy in an attempt to show that these countries' approaches to restructuring, while still shaped by nationally different legal, social, cultural, political and historical factors, are nonetheless moving towards a common pattern of action.

There are many reasons why these three countries were selected for the study of this convergence, but two of them are particularly important. First, two large-scale international research projects co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) have generated a number of very useful and up to date case studies and essays on these countries' corporate restructuring processes. And second, these countries feature a number of common trends, albeit to different extents: trade unions and union density are declining; working conditions are increasingly determined at enterprise level; pressure is growing to downgrade working conditions in return for employment security; derogation and deregulation are being widely sought and accepted; and extensive restructuring of important local firms has created a widespread sense of shock. At any rate, the question of how to strike a balance between workers' protection and the necessity of corporate restructuring is the key issue in every country. In this context, the role of labour law is not simply to protect workers, but to balance protection and efficiency within national economies. While protecting workers affected by restructuring is unquestionably an important goal in the short term, broad trends in the pattern of union action suggest that workers' representatives are beginning to acknowledge that facilitating corporate restructuring, although painful in the short term, will serve workers' interests in the long run. At the same time, the European Union (EU) is criticized for lack of intervention and excessive confidence in market freedoms.

Following a brief introductory presentation of the framework of enquiry, this article concentrates on the impact on corporate restructuring of recent developments in the structure and functioning of collective bargaining, first, in terms of the shift in collective bargaining from the national or industry level towards the company or establishment level; and, second, in terms of the role of trade unions and/or employee representatives in the flexibilization of protective labour regulations. Finally, a concluding section looks at the challenges and opportunities that should be addressed at EU level.

The evolving structure of collective bargaining in the context of corporate restructuring

Business restructuring used to be an occasional occurrence, an immediate response to urgent necessity brought about by an unexpected change in circumstances. But in today's context of economic globalization, restructuring follows as a natural consequence of the growing international connections between markets. Continuous and pervasive company restructuring has thus become a fact of life (European Commission, 2004). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Towards Socially Sensitive Corporate Restructuring? Comparative Remarks on Collective Bargaining Developments in Germany, France and Italy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.