(21 February 2017) Restoring, reviving and promoting collective bargaining was a constant refrain at the ETUCs ‘Europe needs a pay rise – Its time for our recovery’, launch event, which took place in Brussels on the 14th and 15th of February.
ETUC General Secretary, Luca Visentini in his opening speech said: ‘Collective bargaining is the foundation of efficient social dialogue and democracy at work. It is the fundamental tool to make sure wage increases benefit labour and the economy’.
‘What we have seen over recent years has been a systematic dismantling of collective bargaining in most countries,’ said Visentini, ‘with very aggressive recommendations coming from all institutions for unrestricted decentralisation and even destruction of collective bargaining institutions, as part of the fixation with an export-based economy boosted by labour-cost competition. The result has been a disaster,’ he concluded.
Marco Leonardi, an Advisor to the Italian Prime Minister, confirmed that Italy has renewed collective bargaining agreements, which had come under pressure in recent years. He noted that collective bargaining agreements are a good way to translate higher economic growth into higher wages, stating it is important that trade unions focus on higher wages and salaries, in further offering his support for the ETUC’s pay rise campaign.
Panelists from employers organisations admitted that bolstering collective bargaining has an important role to play in deepening and sustaining Europe’s economic recovery. Thérèse de Liedekerke, Deputy Director General of Business Europe said that her organisation is ready to endorse collective bargaining solutions as an important response to Europe’s economic and social problems. The General Secretary of CEEP Valeria Ronzitti made a commitment to supporting the revitalization of collective bargaining, admitting that it had been unjustly curbed in recent years and needs to be rejuvenated.
The President of the ETUC and the Belgium Federation FGBT Rudy De Leeuw, also voiced his support for stronger collective bargaining stating that it allows employers and workers to negotiate without fear, which is an important element of social partnerships.