The widespread trends towards markets liberalisation, decline in trade union power, and flexible work organization were expected to push collective bargaining institutions to converge to a decentralised bargaining structure. This crude version of the neoliberal convergence thesis, however, was not borne out. Instead, change in employment relations has been more nuanced than initially thought. This paper explores the conditions under which centralisation of bargaining is possible, even in a more competitive environment with pressures for greater flexibility. It draws on case study evidence from the Italian telecommunications industry, tracing back the process of liberalisation since the early 1990s. It is shown how the strategies and the coalitions between organised labour, business and the state explain in large part this path of institutional change.