Between Bargaining and Politics: An Introduction to European Labor Relations

Between Bargaining and Politics: An Introduction to European Labor Relations

Between Bargaining and Politics: An Introduction to European Labor Relations

Between Bargaining and Politics: An Introduction to European Labor Relations

Synopsis

This text provides an overview and concise introduction to labor relations in Europe. The author seeks to transcend nationalism in labor relations by focusing his discussion and analysis on the continent as a whole and on groups of countries. The national focus is to some extent given up, not for a concentration on differences within nations, but in favor of a discussion of common European developments. European labor relations have a number of basic features in common, not only in collective bargaining and conflict, but also in worker participation and in the role of national governments. And, in a number of ways, these features are strikingly different from the labor relations model seen in the United States. The text, therefore, offers an illuminating analysis of commonalities and differences within European labor relations, as well as between the United States and Europe.

Excerpt

Most Europeans tend to think in terms of national models of politics, culture and social life, except when they are in the United States and gladly overstep national boundaries to meet fellow Europeans. This "nationalist" attitude also permeates most surveys of European labor relations and politics, many of which are organized by country rather than cross-country.

This short introduction to European labor relations is an effort to provide a general Europe-wide view. Its only claim to originality is its Europe-wide focus, not just for one subject but for a whole range of developments in European labor relations. It is an attempt to transcend "nationalism" in labor relations by focusing on the continent as a whole and on groups of countries. the national focus is to some extent given up, not for a concentration on differences within nations but in favor of a discussion of common European developments.

As the survey in the following chapters shows, European labor relations have a few basic features in common, not only in collective bargaining and conflict but also in worker participation and in the role of the national governments. Looking at these common elements, the nature of European labor relations might be summarized as follows.

First, collective bargaining is practiced primarily by employers' associations and trade unions for each industrial and commercial sector at a time. On both sides the negotiations are coordinated to some extent by the all-industry confederations. Company bargaining is also common, but on the union side it is carried out within the framework of the organizations' policy for the sector as a whole and under the leadership of sector union officials. Most larger labor disputes take place during the annual period of bargaining and are called by the trade unions rather than by individual workers or the union representation within the enterprise. During the term of the agreement the unions generally refrain from calling strikes.

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