OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers

This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected labour market, social policy and migration studies prepared for use within the OECD. Authorship is usually collective, but principal writers are named. The papers are generally available only in their original language - English or French - with a summary in the other.

English, French

Organised Decentralisation of Collective Bargaining

Case studies of Germany, Netherlands and Denmark

This paper investigates different varieties of so called organised decentralisation of collective bargaining in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. Organised decentralisation occurs within the framework of sector agreements, which explicitly allow determination of terms and conditions at company level, and often set certain (minimum) level standards as well as procedure that have to be respected. German decentralisation is based on its dual-channel system and extensive use of opening clauses, which make workplace derogation from sector-level agreements possible. Dutch decentralisation is based on the dual-channel system and on framework agreements that allow company level bargaining as long as minimum stipulations are observed. Finally, Denmark combines a single-channel system with framework agreements setting minimum levels. Germany stands out as the least organised of the three. Opening and derogation clauses mean that terms and conditions in multi-employer agreements can be undercut. Vertical control over these derogations has suffered from the dual-channel representation in which works councils have a new role. The Netherlands exhibit some, very limited, elements of disorganisation and stable bargaining coverage. Decentralisation has mainly happened through framework agreements setting minimum levels or through the organised transfer of competencies to works councils. The Danish system leaves a lot of scope for local bargaining, the minimum levels are generally observed and bargaining coverage has not suffered. Based on these findings, we draw the conclusion that organised decentralisation requires articulation that preserves a regulatory function of multi-employer agreements. Preservation of multi-employer agreements in turn requires high bargaining coverage.


JEL: J81: Labor and Demographic Economics / Labor Standards: National and International / Labor Standards: Working Conditions; J3: Labor and Demographic Economics / Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs; J52: Labor and Demographic Economics / Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining / Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation; Collective Bargaining
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