Business and industry is facing drastic change, which poses a major challenge to the German welfare state. The partners in Germany’s social system need to create and help implement solutions to the problems they will be facing.
These solutions cannot be found unless all partners develop a vision of a society that we want to live in in the future. This society needs to function in a way that reflects our changing times. What’s more, the partners need to explore new ways to achieve the desired goals. This applies equally to labor relations and business operations.
Wage autonomy is a key factor in Germany’s social market economy. The constitution mandates that unions and management have independent control of economic and labor relations in Germany. The challenge they face is finding a way to meet this responsibility in changing times. They need to combine the undisputed advantages of traditional wage control instruments—primarily industry-wide agreements—with the increased flexibility and diversification that businesses need today.
Changes made to collective bargaining agreements have an industry-wide impact. Human resource managers and works councils are facing new challenges caused by the increasing flexibility of wage structures, challenges that bring both opportunities and risks. The consequences of having wage negotiation processes take place at the company-level cannot as yet be foreseen.
The Bertelsmann Stiftung is committed to supporting the partners on all sides of this process as they take on their new roles. The foundation sees itself as a neutral moderator, and intends to stimulate discourse among all partners by making outside experts available and providing safe spaces for open dialogue.
Innovative collective bargaining policy
Conditions that foster growth and employment need to be in place before the strategic goal of improving Germany’s labor market can be achieved. The goal of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Innovative Tarifpolitik (Innovative Collective Bargaining Policy) project is to develop creative strategies to overhaul collective bargaining policies and create a forum for unions and management that encourages constructive dialogue. As part of these reform efforts, company-level needs must be considered to a greater degree without abandoning the undisputed advantages of industry-level agreements.
Scenario conference “The future of social cooperation 2020”
Changing conditions and societal upheaval are placing participants in the collective bargaining process under increasing pressure to adapt. They face the challenges of developing strategic solutions for existing problems and identifying future areas of activity.
The Bertelsmann Stiftung is working to help all sides in the process by giving them a forum for open dialogue and by providing methodological support.