23. august 2012

Coping with Economic Recession- The Negotiation Skills of Shop Stewards

Paper by Trine P. Larsen and Steen E. Navrbjerg

The financial crisis has changed the cooperative culture in many companies. While the shop stewards only a few years ago negotiated wage increases and how to deal with labour shortage, today they often have to deal with wage freezes, cutbacks in wages and redundancies.

Based on a quantitative survey with 3,275 Danish shop stewards employed in the private sector anno 2010, this paper examines whether shop stewards after more than 10 years of economic growth have the skills to negotiate wage and working conditions during the crisis.

The analysis shows that while in general a cooperative approach is quite widespread in Danish companies, companies hit by the crises tend to give less influence to shop stewards and employees, especially with respect to economic and strategic issues. Also, more than one in four shop stewards report that they lack the skills to negotiate wage freezes, cutbacks in wages and redundancies.

However, shop stewards’ seniority and formal shop steward qualifications do appear to make a difference, where the more experienced shop stewards and those with formal training are more likely to be involved in managerial decisions. 

Paper presented at the ILERA World Congress 2012, Philadelphia, USA, 2-5 July 2012.