‘Unbound’ employers' associations and derogations: erosion and renewal of collective bargaining in the German metalworking industry


  • Thomas Haipeter is Senior Researcher at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Institute Work and Qualification.

Thomas Haipeter, University of Duisburg-Essen, Institute Work and Qualification, Forsthausweg 2, Duisburg 47057, Germany; email: thomas.haipeter@uni-due.de


Declining union density, the reduction in coverage or informal derogations from collective agreements are signs of erosion of the corporatist German system of collective bargaining. However, new developments can be observed like ‘unbound’ employers' associations or derogations from collective agreements. These new developments make it necessary to reassess the prospects of collective bargaining. At the first sight they seem to be little more than indicators of erosion or exhaustion, but the in-depth analysis reveals that these developments can be starting points of renewal because they give stimuli to increase the associational power of employers' associations and, even more important for collective bargaining, unions. As a result, however, collective bargaining will become less corporatist in style.