Dismantling or Maintaining Collective Labour Regulations Under Conditions of Free Labour and Service Mobility: The Cases of the German and Norwegian Construction Sectors

Friday, July 14, 2017
JWS - Room J7 (J361) (University of Glasgow)
Sandra Engelbrecht , Hertie School of Governance
The purpose of this paper is to investigate to what extent the pressure for change originating from labour and service mobility in the European Union (EU) open market has led to actual change in the industrial relations institutions of the German and Norwegian construction sectors. It responds to the question of how political economic actors, namely employers and trade unions, have promoted or damaged sustainability of collective labour regulations in an integrated Europe. The process under investigation covers roughly two decades, taking the early 1990s as point of departure, up until the mid-2010s. My aim is to explain how contribution to institutional stability can take place through adaptation and resilience creation in a context of high pressure for change originating from the EU open market, and the increased labour and service mobility within it – and conversely, under which conditions the pressure for change is transformed into actual change. In attempting to capture continuity and change in the industrial relations, I study the formal structures and functioning of three core institutions: collective bargaining, labour legislation and workplace representation. Based on case studies of the German and Norwegian construction sectors, using interview data, legal documents and descriptive statistics, I demonstrate how differences in the responses by employers and trade unions trigger distinct causal processes, which contributes either to institutional continuity or institutional change in the shape of liberalization of the sectoral industrial relations institutions.