There is a consensus in the socioeconomics literature that the Great Recession (GR) has introduced heterogeneous transformations on the industrial relations over the European Union (EU) countries, although has not changed the long-term tendency of decentralization, declining union density and reducing union wage bargaining power. These heterogeneous effects are related to the sources of trade union power, which could be associated to structural power (unemployment rate), organizational power (union density), institutional power (collective bargaining coverage) and social power (capability to move and mobilized the society). In other words, on the particular varieties of unionisms and the welfare state in which they are developed (Frege and Kelly, 2004; Lehndorff et al 2017; Visser, 2016; Gumbrell-McCormick and Hyman, 2013). This general perspective, however, opens a window for a more disaggregated analysis, at sectoral and company level to evaluate the effects of GR (with a microscopic view, using a Gumbrell-McCormick and Hyman (2013) terminology). A company-level analysis allows a more accurate evaluation of the GR effects over the industrial relations. To do that, this paper focuses on the GR effects over the collective bargaining in the EU countries through the internal flexibility. The relationship between internal flexibility and collective bargaining is one of the most important issues in the recent industrial relations transformations in the EU countries. The main responses in the EU countries at national level were the increase of short-time work and/or temporary layoff; changes in working time arrangements; prevention or mitigation of job loss; measures to support redundant workers; employee concessions (no wage increase or reduction, flexible working time, other changes in working conditions); and some types of employment guarantees (Glassner et al., 2011; Glassner and Keune, 2010; and Carley and Marginson, 2011). Related to the determinants of those responses, Glassner et al. (2011) and Carley and Marginson (2011) argue that the intensity of the crisis did not affect the cross-country incidence of crisis-response agreements, particularly because measures related to short-time work and/or temporary lay-offs are instruments that existed in many countries before the crisis (such as Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands).

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