Checchi, D. and C. Lucifora (2002), “Unions and labour market institutions in Europe,” Departmental Working Papers, No. 16, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano, ideas.repec.org/p/mil/wpdepa/2002-16.html (called May 14, 2019). As with trade union density, the decline was greatest in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, where the collapse of the old regimes led to abrupt changes in the role of trade unions and collective bargaining. Sharp declines were also seen in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, where deep reforms took place in the 1980s. Coverage has been relatively stable in most continental European countries, with the exception of Germany, and in Greece too, coverage has recently declined. The decline in collective bargaining coverage in Portugal during the crisis years is the subject of methodological controversies, which are discussed in Box 2.3. In many respects, Spain and Switzerland are moving closer to the previous group, but in Spain, the recent reform has allowed agreements at a lower level to refrain from higher agreements (derogations are rarely used at the moment), while in Switzerland coordination does not yet play a minor role.
While the dominant level of bargaining makes it possible to quickly characterise collective bargaining systems in OECD countries, it also risks giving an overly simplified picture. Figure 2.13 clearly shows that countries with the same dominant level of bargaining differ considerably in their actual structure: even in countries where sectoral negotiations are the dominant level, negotiations can play a very important role at company level and vice versa. ← 43rd Traxler (2003) developed the “contingency thesis of collective bargaining”, which states that the performance of a collective bargaining system depends decisively on the ability to enforce the terms of agreements. The duration of collective agreements, their validity beyond the date of termination (the “ultraactivity”) or before their entry into force in the event of delay (called “retroactivity”) also influence the tariff coverage, as already mentioned. In some OECD countries, collective agreements expire only when they are replaced by new collective agreements. This ensures the continuity of the system and prevents cancellations in the event of the expiry of collective agreements. In countries where the law leaves ample or total room for manoeuvre for collective bargaining (e.g.B. in countries without a statutory minimum wage), a process without replacement or ultraactivity effects would leave workers completely unscathed. It is clear that a long and even indefinite duration of agreements strengthens workers` bargaining power by keeping them covered, even if employers are unwilling to negotiate new terms and ultimately contribute to strengthening stability and social peace. On the other hand, an indefinite or long term of agreements can make it more difficult for employers to renegotiate contractual terms in times of crisis or deflation, which could have a negative impact on employment. . .