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The collective bargaining of flexicurity: A case for sector‐level analysis? The Italian chemical and metalworking sectors compared

Abstract Although employment relations in Europe have long been seen as a factor of rigidity, limiting managerial discretion and adaptability, in the last 30 years, they have witnessed a trend towards decentralisation of collective bargaining and negotiations increasingly centred on flexibility–security trade‐offs between employers and employees. Research on the contribution of collective bargaining to the so‐called flexicurity has mostly focused on national‐level institutional arrangements. In this article, we contend that meso‐level differences need to feature more prominently in the debate. Our comparison of two sectors in the same country (chemicals and metalworking in Italy) shows that decentralisation has divergent effects on flexicurity issues depending in particular on differences in market structures and on depth of bargaining. The interplay between these two factors affects what we refer to as procedural security, which we view as important in ensuring sustainable trade‐offs between flexibility and security.

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