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Comparative studies indicate that employers are willing to accept centralized collective bargaining if it helps them prevent unions from working. Workplace trade unionism, particularly in a craft tradition, reduces the prerogative of managers and may undermine management`s attempts to increase productivity. On the other hand, even industrial unions must be present in the workplace, if only to recruit members, to monitor the implementation of collective agreements and, in general, in the management of the employment relationship and the “wage contract” inherent in the work process. The balance of central and professional representation or external and internal trade union organisation has been and remains one of the main problems of the trade union relationship and the working relationship. Employers seem less fond of unionism in the workplace. This has often led to an agreement with industry unions on uniform rules for the representation of workers at the enterprise level, as in Italy. In some countries, such as the United States, the representation of unitary unions is introduced by legal procedure. In other countries, trade unionism is merged into the workplace to become institutions of legal participation, which gives the works councils, elected by the staff as a whole, rights of information, consultation and codecision, while ensuring that the management of the company has a single equivalent with which to negotiate. While enterprise committees are not able to organize strikes in most countries, they tend to have close ties with internal and external unions, not least because most of their members are generally also unionized. During the reporting period, there were two significant changes in business organizations. First, the merger of two major employers` organizations (Keidanren and Nikkeiren to Nihon Keidanren, Japan Business Federation, in 2003) means that labour issues are no longer more important issues for needing a separate organization, the Nikkeiren having been created specifically for work issues in 1948.

Another important change has been the shift in power of established companies (the Zaibatsu groups and quasi-public companies such as New Japan Steel or power companies) towards more dynamic newcomers.