This Policy Brief provides an overview of collective bargaining responses to the crisis in Europe. It shows clearly that collective bargaining has proven to be an effective instrument to maintain employment and to allow companies to find flexible solutions to deal with the steep economic downturn. They note, though, that the increased pressure for the flexibilisation of working time, wage-setting and employment conditions may give rise to a trend towards ‘disorganised’ decentralisation of collective bargaining. Thus, it is vital that trade unions ensure that deviations from collective agreements are applied only temporarily in companies encountering economic difficulties and also that they increase their efforts to coordinate their bargaining policies across borders.

This Policy Brief is based on the Working Paper 'Negotiating the crisis? Collective bargaining in Europe during the economic downturn' (March 2010) written by the authors for the International Labour Office.

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