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Negotiating Flexibility

The Role of Social Partners and the State

Muneto Ozaki
Release Date: August 1, 1999

This timely volume discusses the extent to which the labor market is becoming more flexible in response to competitive pressures and examines the pivotal roles of collective bargaining in introducing this flexibility.

Providing detailed information from 22 country studies, the book covers industrialized and developing nations across Western Europe, North and South America, and Asia. It analyzes the extent of flexibility introduced in these labor markets, as well as the changing role of the state in industrial relations, and the positions of employers and trade unions on labor market flexibility. This comprehensive study reviews the move toward flexibility in four principal areas: contracts of employment, pay, working time, and work organization.

While closely examining the means of achieving greater labor market flexibility, this highly topical book addresses the various ways in which flexibility has been introduced, including through legislative action, collective bargaining, individual contracts of employment, and unilateral employer decisions. The findings in this book reveal that collective bargaining is the most effective means of introducing flexibility, as it engages both employers and workers in the process of change.

In addition, the volume examines the outcomes of negotiations on flexibility at the central, sectoral, and enterprise levels, paying special attention to the trade-offs that arise, particularly in the areas of job security, working time, and workers’ lifestyles.