Collective bargaining – trends and developments
Collective bargaining is a core activity of trade unions and EPSU’s affiliates negotiate with public service employers at every level. This can range from national public-sector wide bargaining to sector and local negotiations with public sector employers but also private and non-profit providers of public services. EPSU works with the European Trade Union Confederation to try to improve collective bargaining rights for all workers across Europe. We also act as a European information point so that EPSU affiliates are aware of trends in public service negotiations. EPSU’s collective bargaining newsletter provides regular updates on developments across Europe and this briefing gives an overview of the state of play in the main agreements in each country.
The European Trade Union Confederation has welcomed the decision by member states to support the Adequate Minimum Wages Directive that it says will help ensure that millions of workers across Europe get fairer wages and improved rights to collective bargaining. The directive is now set for a final sign-off by MEPs and ministers in September. The proposal includes a framework for setting adequate statutory minimum wages and a duty on member states to promote collective bargaining and combat union busting and to produce an action plan to support collective bargaining in states where coverage is
Over 80,000 people joined the national demonstration in Brussels on 20 June organised by the three main trade union confederations FGTB/ABVV, CSC/ACV, CGLSB/ACLVB. The unions want to see a change to the legal framework that imposes limits on the cross-sector pay negotiations and leaves trade unions with little room to bargain on top of the indexation system. EPSU’s Belgian affiliates all joined the march, along with EPSU staff.
The trilogue negotiations between the European Commission, Council and Parliament have produced a provisional agreement on the Directive on Adequate Minimum Wages. It is now up to the Council and Parliament to vote on the proposal with the prospect that the Directive might be law by the autumn. The ETUC believes that the directive’s provisions on both statutory minimum wages and collective bargaining could be game changing, delivering not just vital increases for millions of workers who are facing surging prices but new rights and possibilities for trade unions to strengthen and extend
EPSU was part of an ETUC delegation that met with employers and representatives of the European Council, Commission, Central Bank and Eurogroup in the biannual Macroeconomic Dialogue on 23 May. ETUC general secretary, Luca Visentini, pointed out that wage developments in the last quarter of 2021 had been the lowest for several years, that the wage share in the economy was declining and that there was no evidence that pay increases had pushed inflation higher. EPSU general secretary, Jan Willem Goudriaan, underlined the need for action to address low pay and precarious work in health and
The three trade union confederations ACV/CSC, ABVV/FGTB and ACLVB/CGSLB are building for their national demonstration on 20 June. This is part of the trade union movement’s campaign to put pressure on the government to do more to protect workers against inflation and to reform the wage law that imposes restrictions on the scope to negotiate pay rises in the biennial, cross-sector collective bargaining. Petitioning by the unions has already paid off as it has given them the opportunity to take part in a parliamentary hearing on 29 June.
Several unions, including Kommunal, Vision, ASSR and Vårdförbundet, have welcomed the resolution of a dispute with Church of Sweden over a transition agreement. The dispute, which involved some targeted industrial action, meant that the pay rise and general collective agreement for 2022-23 were postponed but are now being implemented as the unions finalise the details of the agreement covering job transitions with important provisions on careers and training.
The public service federations within the CCOO confederation have denounced the lack of negotiation of the general state budgets for 2022. They have also criticised the 2% increase imposed on public service workers for 2022 as completely insufficient. The federations have called for negotiations to start on a new multi-year salary agreement that guarantees the maintenance of purchasing power. The last three-year agreement (2018-2020) led to some progress towards restoring pay after the cuts and freezes of the austerity years. Along with pay the unions want to see other urgent measures
The International Labour Organisation has published a report that shows that the higher the coverage of employees by collective agreements, the lower the wage differences are. Social Dialogue Report 2022: Collective bargaining for an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery is based on a review of collective agreements and practices in 80 countries and the legal and regulatory frameworks in 125 countries. It also provides evidence that collective bargaining can contribute to narrowing the gender pay gap with over half (59 per cent) the agreements reviewed in the study reflecting a joint