Compare and contrast the role of the ‘social partners’ in the German and Danish systems of employment relationsSimilarities Germany and Denmark share some common features starting from being coordinated and regulated economy. The first role and source of similarity is that of association and adoption of the concept of tripartite collective bargain. The main framework of employment relation framework is tripartite collective bargain by social partners. However, in most cases government intervention is restricted. This means that both countries have adopted the concept of self regulation by unions and employers federation.
Under this self regulation, the partners have the free will of determining their engagement framework. The underlying notion for this is on the premise of consensus building. In this premise the government believes that employee unions and employers can find a solution to industrial relations problems afflicting them. Moreover, in this context, each party see others as associates and not source of antagonism and friction. This has led to development of close working relations between employers and unions. Further, under the role of collective bargaining, the social partners address matters relating to wages.
Under this, they fix the level of wages and their periodic increases. In Germany, the agreement done at the enterprise level cannot supersede those done at sector level. The next role of the social partners during collective bargain is to specify framework of wage payment systems. The last role of the social partners during collective bargain that is similar in these countries is in umbrella agreements. This regulates all other conditions of employment like work hours, insurance, annual leave and termination of employment among others. While in the initial years unions and employers were divided on the best approach between centralisation and decentralisation of operations and coordination of agreements, in later years it has tended to lean towards ‘centralised decentralised system’.
The role of social partners has been the development of localised level of agreement that is in sync with national industry wide agreements. This is normally done at the enterprise or firm level. In this case they are seen to have embraced neo-liberalism approach towards employment relations. Moreover, to strengthen the role of association by unions and employers, in both countries they have established strong relations at the enterprise level by opening up steward’s shop and setting cooperation committees.
This has led to the growth of much needed flexibilities. Differences One of the parting points between the two countries in terms of roles is in regulation. In Denmark, regulation operates within the framework of collective bargain and not within the legislation framework. This makes their employment relations as one of the most flexible ones in the world. However, for Germany the opposite is true for the social partners during any collective bargain process.
Germany has high levels of juridification. The juridification is based Acts like Works Constitution Act, Co-Determination Act and Act on Collective Bargaining. The other difference in terms of the roles of social partners is in administration of unemployment benefits. In Denmark, this is done by unions rather than the state. This kind of approach was established way back in 1907. This has enabled the unions to commend huge following and power. On the other hand, in Germany, the unemployment benefit is administered by the state and the unions have no sole role in it.