Area collective agreement

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An area collective agreement is a collective agreement for a certain spatial area of ​​application (tariff area) or a certain area (e.g. North Rhine-Westphalia or the district of Baden-Württemberg ). It always applies to one or more industries (metal, retail, etc.); therefore one often speaks of branch collective agreements .

These collective agreements apply to all employers in this sector in the collective bargaining area who are members of the collective bargaining employers' association (see: collective bargaining ). Companies that do not belong to the employers' association are not obliged to apply the collective agreement. Recently, area collective agreements have increasingly included opening clauses that define exceptional situations under which the collective agreement can be deviated from.

The German collective agreements are determined by the system of area collective agreements. In addition to the area-wide collective agreements, there are also company collective agreements (e.g. Lufthansa, VW, Post).

Area collective agreement under discussion

The employers usually argue that a collective agreement can hardly be suitable for everyone at the same time. B. a steel rolling mill, a foundry and a computer chip manufacturer in the same tariff area, where all are positioned differently in the market or some may just make a profit, while others may already be facing bankruptcy.

In their arguments, trade unions occasionally fall back on business and occasionally also on economic arguments. Only under special circumstances do they accept one or the other bankruptcy of individual, particularly disadvantageously positioned companies in order to maintain the actual overall wage level or the regional purchasing power. If a disadvantageously positioned company disappears from the market after insolvency proceedings, jobs are also lost for the union members. An area collective agreement, on the other hand, could keep the overall wage level in the region, so that the total purchasing power and thus the demand in the region does not decrease.

The trade unions are adopting the workplace logic in that companies and workplaces are trying to hold onto a variety of compromises. The overall trend is therefore towards company collective agreements. The associated erosion of the collective bargaining agreement is nevertheless viewed critically by the unions. It is often doubted that moving away from the area tariff will actually lead to an improvement in the labor market situation in the economy as a whole. Rather, an industrialization of collective bargaining policy would inhibit productivity progress and the development of product innovations, so that long-term negative effects on employment are to be feared at the macroeconomic level. According to this line of argument, a stabilization of the collective bargaining system and the introduction of a uniform minimum wage, also promoted by the legislature, are necessary .

Web links


  1. Günther Grunert (2004): The area tariff under criticism (pdf)
  2. Reinhard Bispinck, Thorsten Schulten (2005): Germany before the change in the collective bargaining system? (pdf)