New regulations for individual choices in German collective bargaining
Thorsten Schulten, Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI), Hans-Böckler-Foundation
Reinhard Bispinck, formerly Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI), Hans-Böckler-Foundation
Against the background of growing work pressure due to flexible working time arrangements and digitalization but also new claims for a better work-life-balance, German trade unions are more and more pushing for new regulations which aim to increase working time sovereignty of the individual workers. Since the 2018 collective bargaining round in a couple of sectors, German unions were able to negotiate new provision which give individual workers new opportunities to choose between more money or extra days off. The paper will focus on the new collective agreements in metalworking, rail and postal sector which are the sectors with the most advanced regulations so far. It will analyse the negation process with the different perspectives of unions and employers’ associations, the compromises which came out from negotiations and determine new regulations for individual choices as well as the first experiences of their implementation at company level. For the latter the paper will draw on some original data based on trade union surveys as well as on company data. Finally, it will discuss the results against the background of more long term debates reading working time developments in Germany.