New article: Decentralising wage setting in times of crisis? The regulation and use of wage-related derogation clauses in seven European countries

Maarten Keune

European Labour Law Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1: 86-94

This article presents an analysis of the regulation and importance of wage-related derrogation clauses in collective agreements in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Spain. It discusses the various ways such deviations are legally regulated; the extent to which they are indeed included in intersectoral, sectoral and other collective agreements; what the conditions for their use are; and the extent to which they are actually used in practice at company level. It shows that in most countries there is political pressure from both employers and governments in most countries to extend the possibilities for derogations and a number of reforms have indeed eased their use. As a result, more and more sectoral agreements now include some sort of wage-related derogation clause. This has however not resulted in an increased use of such clauses at the company level. The main exception to this is Germany, where the widespread use of collectively agreed opening clauses has triggered a process of decentralization that has shifted an increasingly large part of bargaining responsibilities to the company level. This has led to a significant loss of regulatory power on the part of both employers’ associations and trade unions and once inviolable collectively agreed standards have become objects of re-negotiation at company level.

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