The ETUC collective bargaining committee met recently (12 October 2005) to discuss the initial results of its annual survey of collective bargaining around Europe.
Also on the agenda were the key points of a resolution on collective bargaining to go to the ETUC executive committee in December and latest developments on European Commission proposals for an optional framework for transnational agreements. The meeting also had a presentation of the international internet-based salary indicator survey and website.
The initial results of the survey carried out by the ETUI-REHS research institute for the ETUC suggest that unions in most countries in 2005 (13 out of 19) were achieving real increases in collectively negotiated wage rates.
The survey also found that in 13 out of 18 countries public sector pay increases for the period 2001-2005 were comparable to those in the private sector. In 2005 public sector pay increases were above those in the private sector in nine out of 14 countries.
The full annual ETUC/ETUI-REHS survey will be published next month and Maarten Keune will present the main findings to the EPSU Collective Bargaining conference in Brussels on 12 December.
Collective bargaining resolution
A draft resolution would be circulated by the ETUC shortly for detailed comment, but the discussion covered a number of key points. It noted the continuing decline in the share of wages in national income and emphasised the role that wages played in boosting domestic demand.
The threat to collective bargaining and indexation systems in Italy and Spain were noted while the importance of maintaining minimum wage rates (both statutory and in collective agreements) was emphasised as crucial for tackling poverty pay.
Framework for transnational agreements
An initial discussion on the European Commission's proposals had taken place at the collective bargaining committee in Lecce in September (see presentation). The report from the group of experts was not available and so there were no developments from the Commission to report. However, the meeting was able to underline some of the main concerns of the ETUC and its affiliates.
Essentially if progress is to be made on the framework agreement then unions need clarification on which organisations will be entitled to sign such agreements and how their representativity will be assessed. They also want to know how the framework will fit with existing national, sectoral and local agreements and how it will ensure a levelling up of pay and conditions and not allow a race to the bottom.
Delegates to the meeting were sceptical about the extent to which progress could be made on the framework in the light of opposition from the UNICE employers' organisation. However, they confirmed their support for the initiative bearing in mind the list of items that needed clarification.
Wage Indicator website are an initiative which began in the Netherland in 2001 and which are now online in 10 European countries as well as India, South Africa, Brazil and United States. The websites allow people to enter their own salary information and compare it with the information the website has collected on the same or similar jobs. A range of individual unions and union federations are working with academics and journalists in each country to maintain and promote the websites.