Representativiness of social partners and impact of economic governance

Representativiness of social partners and impact of economic governance

In Europe and all over the world, both workers and employers associations perform a crucial regulatory role in the labour market. Through collective bargaining (CB), they settle bilateral agreements on wages and working conditions, contributing to overcoming labour inequalities. In many countries, these agreements are extended to non-affiliated companies and workers. However, while extension procedures (EPs) prevent social dumping, it has been also argued that EPs impose wage rigidity, encouraging non-compliance of collective agreements, and free-riding.

Recent neoliberal policies implemented labour market reforms, especially in Southern Europe, weakening CB. In Portugal, for instance, where CB is mainly based on the mutual recognition of social partners, the Memorandum of Understanding introduced a criteria based on the so called density of employers associations. This measure led to a sharp drop in CB coverage, leaving many workers unprotected. Only later, the addition of a new criterion proposed by social partners, led CB to start to pick up slightly. Representativeness entitles social partners to act on behalf of their members, providing legitimacy for their participation in democratic societies. However, existing studies and political agencies tend to restrict representativeness to the analysis of the number of members and focuses mainly on trade unions.

Considering that representativeness is a multifaceted concept, the REP project will, for the first time, take into account, not only membership, but also the composition similarity between representatives and represented, and the congruence between representative actions and represented interests. Furthermore, the project considers both employers associations and trade unions.

The objectives of the REP project are:

  • to collect and analyse scattered data to provide an accurate and updated description of all Portuguese social partners (database creation);
  • to explore the different combinations of dimensions from a multifaceted concept of representativeness applied to social partners (case studies);
  • to describe the extension of social partners representativeness, assuming a multifaceted concept (online survey);
  • to understand the relationship between social partners with different representativeness and the way they perform collective bargaining.

At the end of the project, one will be able to know what changes are expected in the composition of the social partners and in the coverage of collective bargaining if other representativeness criteria are implemented. And in that case, what variables should be considered and why.

Providing qualitative and quantitative data on a national representativeness system, punctuated by informality and fragmentation, the REP project intends to contribute to a more informed decision-making process, to more transparent and trustful organisations, and to fairer labour relations.

 

Estatuto: 
Proponent entity
Financed: 
Yes
Rede: 
INESC-ID-ULisboa; CES-UCoimbra
Keywords: 

Representativeness, Trade unions, Employers’ associations, Collective bargaining

In Europe and all over the world, both workers and employers associations perform a crucial regulatory role in the labour market. Through collective bargaining (CB), they settle bilateral agreements on wages and working conditions, contributing to overcoming labour inequalities. In many countries, these agreements are extended to non-affiliated companies and workers. However, while extension procedures (EPs) prevent social dumping, it has been also argued that EPs impose wage rigidity, encouraging non-compliance of collective agreements, and free-riding.

Recent neoliberal policies implemented labour market reforms, especially in Southern Europe, weakening CB. In Portugal, for instance, where CB is mainly based on the mutual recognition of social partners, the Memorandum of Understanding introduced a criteria based on the so called density of employers associations. This measure led to a sharp drop in CB coverage, leaving many workers unprotected. Only later, the addition of a new criterion proposed by social partners, led CB to start to pick up slightly. Representativeness entitles social partners to act on behalf of their members, providing legitimacy for their participation in democratic societies. However, existing studies and political agencies tend to restrict representativeness to the analysis of the number of members and focuses mainly on trade unions.

Considering that representativeness is a multifaceted concept, the REP project will, for the first time, take into account, not only membership, but also the composition similarity between representatives and represented, and the congruence between representative actions and represented interests. Furthermore, the project considers both employers associations and trade unions.

The objectives of the REP project are:

  • to collect and analyse scattered data to provide an accurate and updated description of all Portuguese social partners (database creation);
  • to explore the different combinations of dimensions from a multifaceted concept of representativeness applied to social partners (case studies);
  • to describe the extension of social partners representativeness, assuming a multifaceted concept (online survey);
  • to understand the relationship between social partners with different representativeness and the way they perform collective bargaining.

At the end of the project, one will be able to know what changes are expected in the composition of the social partners and in the coverage of collective bargaining if other representativeness criteria are implemented. And in that case, what variables should be considered and why.

Providing qualitative and quantitative data on a national representativeness system, punctuated by informality and fragmentation, the REP project intends to contribute to a more informed decision-making process, to more transparent and trustful organisations, and to fairer labour relations.

 

Parceria: 
National network
Ana Espírito-Santo

REP

Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/10/2018
End Date: 
30/09/2021
Duração: 
36 meses
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