New Book: "Joint regulation and labour market policy in Europe during the crisis"

Written by Aristea Koukiadaki (Univ. Manchester), Isabel Távora (Univ. Manchester) and Miguel Martínez Lucio (Univ. Manchester)

This book presents the results of a research project which sought to understand how the crisis-driven labour policy measures in the EU Member States most affected by the crisis translated into changes in collective bargaining in manufacturing.

Key findings:
- The labour market reforms have been driven by and are consistent with the commitments undertaken by national governments in the context of economic adjustment programmes or other European-level coordination instruments.
- The limited (in some cases non-existent) influence of the industrial relations actors during the process for adoption of the reforms highlights the unilateral character of the policy decision-making process.
- Most EU member states examined in the study are experiencing a crisis of collective bargaining, most notably at inter-sectoral and sectoral levels, with negative implications for bargaining coverage and coordination. There is evidence of downward wage adjustments, albeit in some cases cushioned by developments in national minimum wages (e.g. Slovenia).
- The differences in bargaining trends between EU member states may be attributed to differences in the extent and nature of reforms, the scope for the involvement of the trade unions and employers’ associations in the process for the adoption of the reforms, and the pre-existing strength of the bargaining systems.
- There are growing employer concerns about the ability of local management to cope with greater decentralisation and change, while trade unions have been increasingly constrained in their ability to regulate employment and monitor the enforcement of agreements and labour standards.
- The state’s ability to respond is being tested by the impact of the measures on such areas as labour inspection, judicial processes and state mediation services. This appears to be leading to a re-politicisation of labour relations.
- It is necessary to reconsider at both European and national governance levels the role played by multi-employer collective bargaining as a mechanism for minimising the externalities of market and policy-driven adjustments and for achieving macroeconomic benefits and social cohesion.

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