Decentralized Collective Bargaining in France, Germany and Italy

Decentralized collective bargaining in France, Germany and Italy: industrial relations and SMEs interactions for economic growth.

The project "Decentralized collective bargaining in France, Germany and Italy: industrial relations and SMEs interactions for economic growth" is co-funded by the European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion - Employment and Social Legislation, Social Dialogue, Industrial Relations.

The project stems from the consideration that many continental European political economies have been significantly reconfigured over the past two decades in relation to new challenges (changing international markets, increased competition in manufacturing, and the rise of services).

In Germany, France and Italy, such changes were more fragmentary than revolutionary, but their cumulative effects have been insightful. Such changes mainly regard: Centralized collective bargaining/Firm based bargaining relationships; Labor market deregulation; Welfare systems recasting.

Centralized collective bargaining have delegated more and more issues to firm-based bargaining.

Labor markets have not been deregulated wholesale, but the number of "atypical" or "nonstandard" employment relationships has risen severely in recent years. Welfare institutions and programs have been "recast" in ways that make them very detached from those that prevailed twenty or even just ten years ago.Also in relation to the EPP (EURO PLUS PACT) that was agreed at the European Council meeting of 24/25 March 2011 by the Euro area Heads of State or government, those three elements above mentioned (collective bargaining, labor market, welfare systems) need to be modernized.

Project objectives

In this frame, Germany, France and Italy will be compared in terms of the usual measures of labour organisation in order to strengthen matters for industrial relations institutions. This means that the comparison will have a specific focus on industrial relations, and in particular on decentralized collective bargaining in relations to SMEs and economic growth in the three countries.

Such comparison will allow social actors to better understand the interactions between industrial relations, decentralized bargaining and economic growth.

The central question of the project concerns the development of German and French systems in comparison with the Italian industrial relations: however, this comparison is not aimed at understanding whether the industrial relations crisis is correct or not.

The research will aim to analyze which are the consequences for the Italian actors of collective bargaining and which are the opportunities for action, looking what it is already developing in Germany and France regarding decentralized collective bargaining against the current crisis and in order to promote economic growth.

What might be the specific goals of this comparative investigation? The research will consider three important issues that collective bargaining might attempt to advance:

1. wage settings

2. working hours

3. paritarian institutions

Project activities

The project is articulated into different phases:

- a background analysis focusing on the existing legal provisions on decentralized bargaining in Italy, France and Germany. This step will entail the drafting of three country papers.

- a case study analysis, with the aim of analyzing a decentralized (regional/firm level) collective bargaining agreements (CBA) related to the National Collective Bargaining Agreement, focusing on wage settings, working hours, paritarian institutions.

- Knowledge sharing and mutual learning, through the organisation of national and transnational cluster meetings

- Dissemination of results, aimed at raising general awareness and spreding information about the situation of decentralized collective bargaining in France, Germany and Italy

Expected results

The project will help to shed a light on the trend of industrial relations in the three biggest Continental European countries, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses and their potential degree of transferability in similar contexts.

Furthermore, this study will focus on the industrial relations in the SMEs system, and will assess whether the current system of collective bargaining has consequences on economic growth

Working Team

This section presents the structure of the Working team, which involves partners' representatives and researchers.

In particular, the team is so composed:

Management and administrative staff: Manuelita Mancini (FGB), Antonio Dell'Atti (FGB), Paola Bello (FGB), Juan Manuel Herrera Simula (IISG), Renata Crea (IISG), Luca Cerusa (IISG), Gabriele Sterkel (VER.DI), Adelheid Hege (IRES), Guglielmo Loy (UIL), Stefano Di Niola (CNA), Valentina Di Berardino (CNA)

Researchers : Michele Faioli (IISG), Steffen Lehndorff (FGB), Thomas Haipeter (FGB), Christian Dufour (FGB), Barbara Caponetti (IISG), Pierpaolo Dell'Atti (IISG), Simona Vlad Ciubotariu (IISG).

Altogether the working team wields a combination of technical capabilities and expertise which is of  great importance to carry out succesfully  this assignment.