WSI: Key research topics: Wage policy, collective bargaining and industrial relations

Wage policy, collective bargaining policy and industrial relations have been the main fields of expertise in WSI research and public policy advice for decades.

Trade unions, works councils and employers' associations are among the key players for the representation and implementation of employee interests. Research activities focus mainly on the interactions between these players. A panel survey among German works councils provides a unique empirical basis for analyses on the corporate and national level. The WSI Collective Agreement Archive is the major German information centre on developments concerning collectively agreed wages. Research on Germany is complemented by active participation in international networks of scholars investigating wage standards, industrial relations and trade union strategies and perspectives on the European and global level.

Main research topics

collective bargaining in Germany: documentation and analyses - trends in collective bargaining and perspectives of future stabilisation - collective bargaining in Europe und European governance - analyses on works and staff councils - trade unions: organisational problems and organisational action; trends in industrial action - the role of employers’ associations

WSI Minimum Wages Database

Data, graphs and an interactive map give an updated overview of the development and amount of minimum wages in the EU and selected OECD countries.

Selected Publications

Routledge 2021 : Minimum wage regimes

Employing cross-country comparisons, sector studies and single country accounts of change, this new book relates institutional and labour market settings, actors’ strategies and power resources with policy and practice outcomes.

Annual report of the WSI Collective Agreement Archive : Collective Bargaining in Germany 2019

With a nominal increase of 2.9 per cent for 2019, agreed pay rose nearly as much as in the preceding year. Set in the context of the past two decades, this represents one of the highest rates of increase and was exceeded only, and then only marginally, in 2014 and 2018. Given the modest and falling rate of consumer price inflation of 1.4 per cent, real pay grew by 1.5 per cent in 2019.

Tarifarchiv - Analysen

Transfer Vol. 25 (3), 2019 : Europe: From Minimum to Living Wages

Minimum wages are often set only at a rather low level, which does not allow for a decent standard of living. More recently, however, many European countries have seen political initiatives for a more substantial increase of minimum wages. As analysed by Thorsten Schulten (WSI) and Torsten Müller (ETUI), these initiatives fit quite well to the concept of a European minimum wage policy.

Heiner Dribbusch (WSI)/Peter Birke (University of Goettingen): FES Study : Trade unions in Germany: Challenges in a time of transition

Germany after the crisis: the economy has recovered, unemployment has fallen. However, many challenges for trade unions remain: precarious jobs, digitalisation, the decline of collective bargaining coverage. New aspects: The shift to the far-right in society and the migration caused by the global refugee crisis touching the question of trade union solidarity. The brochure provides information on the political context, recent membership development and density, along with assessments on approaches and controversies concerning trade union policies.