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Abstract

This paper addresses the debate on union strategies by analysing industrial relations change in three of Germany's most internationalized sectors: chemicals, metalworking and construction. It characterizes two logics of change in German industrial relations: a battlefield logic and an experimentalist logic. It demonstrates historical trends towards centralization of wage bargaining in each sector before looking at recent pressures for decentralization and flexibility. In chemi-cals, the social partners control decentralization. In metalworking increasing flexibility is characterized by a mismatch between the national-level union and the district-level employers. Finally, the construction union seeks to replace the centralized bargaining system with a state minimum wage.