8. november 2010

National implementation of flexicurity pathways - Developing tools and monitoring instruments based on empirical feedback in consensus with social partners.

Report by CAOP (the Netherlands), ReflecT (the Netherlands), Hans Böckler Stiftung (Germany), FAOS (Denmark) and Labour Asociados (Spain).

The project analysed literature on and texts of collective agreements and consulted social partners to discuss if and how they develop and implement flexicurity. The project attempted to link the various instruments developed by the European Commission to the experiences of social partners and construct tools to assist them in developing flexicurity within collective agreements, (CAs), the main bargaining institution of social partners across Europe. Within the project, tools were developed that social partners can use to create a balance between flexibility and security, i.e. flexicurity, in CAs. The project furthermore included structured consultation and discussion with and between social partners by means of workshops and interviews/questionnaires to make sure that they developed a tool that provided concrete value to the social partners.

Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands were the three ‘core cases’ that were analysed in-depth. Five countries were selected as additional cases to ‘test’ how well the tools could be applied in collective bargaining systems that are different to those in the three core-countries. The additional countries were Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and Sweden.

Based on an analysis of policy documents and texts of collective agreements in the three ‘core countries’ two different ‘first attempt’-tools were developed:

1) A flexicurity check-list for social partners, that is, a number of items to be taken into account in collective agreements

2) A computer tool for monitoring the respect of flexicurity principles in collective agreements, that is, a model operating with quantitative indicators and providing visual representations.

To gain feedback, the tools were presented to the selected countries, and there were two main issues most salient for social partners across all eight countries. Firstly, social partners stressed the fact that CAs do not provide the whole picture on flexicurity as it does not show how the CA works out on practice. Acknowledging that the results do not provide the full picture of flexicurity firms, we assert that the tools could serve as useful instruments to develop a framework for flexicurity in collective bargaining. The second issue was that not all flexicurity issues in the checklist are regulated at CA-level. Some issues are regulated by national law, but this can however vary quite significantly across countries. The project therefore aimed to keep the flexicurity checklist as complete as possible, including all relevant elements from a EU-policy perspective. In concrete bargaining settings, the checklist can be adjusted in line with the issues that are regulated by CA in a specific country, sector, and firm.

The project was funded by the European Commission and was finalized with this report in February 2010.

From FAOS Mikkel Mailand and Christian Lyhne Ibsen participated.