Spain, Portugal, Greece and France have adopted, during or after the crisis, sweeping labour market reforms that have also changed the way collective bargaining works. All reforms were aimed at strengthening collective bargaining at company level and giving employers more flexibility in the event of an economic shock, but they have been partially cancelled in recent years. Since the late 1980s, several reforms have promoted the decentralisation of collective bargaining in many OECD countries, i.e. they have given more space to bargaining at company, company or employment level. Decentralisation has generally taken place in two ways: either directly through the replacement of national/sectoral agreements by company agreements, or through a process of articulation/decentralisation within national/sectoral agreements (Visser, 2016), which allowed company agreements to negotiate remuneration and working conditions within a general framework negotiated at a higher level. Traxler (1995) first characterized these configurations as “uninsordized decentralization” or “organized decentralization.” ← three. Social dialogue includes collective bargaining, workers` voices, lobbying by the social partners and engaging in tripartite negotiations/consultations within the framework of national legislation. This last point is not at the heart of this report. In order to partially allay these fears, extensions may be granted if the “collective agreement already covers a number of employers and workers concerned who, according to the competent authority, are sufficiently representative”, as stated in the ILO Recommendation on Collective Agreements (No. 91). In several OECD countries, administrative extensions are subject to threshold representativeness criteria (for more details available online in the detailed tables25): collective agreements can only be renewed if they are signed by employers` organisations representing a minimum proportion of workers (mostly). Some countries also require that signatory unions represent the majority of workers.
While these criteria may be important, it is more important to ensure that the signatory employers` organisations do not represent just a few selected companies. In most countries, these thresholds will only be revised at the time of signing the agreement or extension. An exception applies in Switzerland, where they must remain for the duration of the agreement; Therefore, if the coverage falls below the 50% threshold, the extension must expire (Visser, 2018). It is not easy to introduce representativeness criteria in countries where they do not exist. As the Portuguese reform of 2012 shows, it is not easy to define criteria that are strict enough to be useful, when they can be easily met, so that enlargements have an effective role to play. Hijzen et al. (2019) propose to opt for a gradual increase in the thresholds over time to ensure the elimination of non-representative extensions and to give employers` organisations time to increase their membership, in particular for small businesses. Figure 2.16 shows the proportion of workers covered by some form of employee representation, as shown in the European Working Conditions Survey. The results show that, at least for European countries, the coverage of representation at company level in countries where collective bargaining is dominant at company level is not particularly high, although employee representation institutions are indispensable pillars of collective bargaining in single-employer schemes. Representation tends to be relatively high in multi-employer bargaining systems, with complementary effects between the two levels (notably in the Nordic countries, Germany or the Netherlands). .