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.
On 5 July a group of 13 Romanian trade unionists arrived in Brussels after a four-day rolling protest from Bucharest over the low wages that force many of their fellow citizens to make similar journeys to find decent work. The “Caravan of Social Rights” stopped in Budapest, Vienna, Munich and Luxembourg along the way to stage protests outside Romanian embassies with the support of local trade unions. GDP per capita in Romania is now 72% of the EU average, but Romanian workers’ pay is just 28% of the EU average and the minimum wage is just €281 a month when the cost of living is €572 a month
As agreed during the last bargaining round in municipal services, a new collective agreement will apply from 1 September that will cover around 180000 health and social care staff employed by municipalities and joint municipal authorities. The Super and TEHY trade unions believe that in future the separate negotiations will enable them to address more effectively the needs of their members. The agreement – SOTE – takes over the provisions of the current KVTES municipal collective agreement and will run until February 2022. The change will also mean that staff in early years education will
On the 14 June 2021, the Council of the EU (EPSCO) endorsed a new report on Long Term Care (LTC) which was prepared by the European Commission (DG Employment) and the Social Protection Committee. The report was published during the COVID-19 pandemic which exacerbated the existing problems relating to the provision of quality care in Member States.
The ETUC joined the CCOO and UGT trade union confederations in a meeting with European Commission Vice-President Dombrovskis to ensure that Spain’s recovery plan would not be subject to austerity conditions. The government is proposing a labour reform that would reverse a 2012 law, which pushed down wages by ending sectoral collective bargaining in favour of weaker company level deals. In a newspaper interview which came in the middle of social dialogue between trade unions and employers on the issue, Dombrovskis appeared to oppose the reform. Following the meeting the ETUC felt reassured that
The Fórsa public services trade union has published a new report to support its call on the government to “harness the productive power of sectoral bargaining” which it argues will improve wage levels and pay equality. The report puts Ireland near the bottom of the scale on worker representation and participation in economic decision-making and argues that collective bargaining can deliver benefits to both workers and employers, while underpinning better outcomes for society and the economy as a whole. The report would contribute to the work of the high-level working group which is examining
Employment, social affairs and health ministers are due to meet at the EPSCO Council on 14 June to discuss the draft directive on minimum wages and have a policy debate on “New Challenges for Social Dialogue and Collective Bargaining”. In the lead up to the meeting the ETUC has been urging national affiliates to approach their governments to underline some key messages. First, is the need for European and national institutions to be active and fulfil their obligations and engagement to ensure the respect of the right to collective bargaining. The ETUC argues that any discussion on the
Leading economists from across Europe have expressed their support for an effective directive on adequate minimum wages that would not only deliver higher pay but greater collective bargaining protection for millions of workers. The conclusion of the letter says that: “The proposed Directive is a step in the right direction, but stronger measures are needed to guarantee the respect of the right to collective bargaining for unions to negotiate better pay and conditions for workers and raise statutory minimum wages to a level which ensures at least a decent standard of living. Adequate minimum
The three main trade union confederations are pleased that, following the national day of action on 29 March 29, the government agreed to separate negotiations on welfare from those on pay. This was a key demand of the trade unions who agreed to approve the funds allocated to a range of payments from unemployment benefit to pensions. The budget of more than 700 million euros intended to maintain the lowest benefit rates should have been implemented last September, but the employers wanted to link it to an agreement on wages. The unions are disappointed that it took so long to arrive at an
The three public service federations – Fp-Cgil, Cisl-Fp and Uil-Pa – have set out the main aims for the new round of collective bargaining in central government. The federations are positive about the negotiations taking place in the framework of the pact for innovation in public services agreed recently with the government. The unions have a broad range of issues that they want to see addressed including: a revision of the staff classification and grading system; a review of pay and career progression; improved industrial relations and information and consultation; strengthening supplementary
Government, trade unions and employers signed a new cross-sector agreement on 31 March that includes a wide range of provisions, among them three key points: adoption of the International Labour Organization Centenary Declaration on the Future of the World of Work; amendments to the Constitution covering the special role of social partnership in the regulation of social and labour relations; and the need to take into account the pandemic when formulating measures to protect workers. The agreement also highlights issues that need to be addressed in relation to public sector pay in order to
The CSC/ACV and FGTB/ABVV trade union confederations are planning a day of protests and strikes on 29 March to push their claims in the stalled negotiations over the biennial agreement for the private sector. This follows two days of action in February in support of the unions’ demands to increase what they say is an unacceptable 0.4% margin for negotiations over and above what’s provided by indexation. The confederations are also calling for a higher minimum wage, action on careers and retirement and a review of the legislation that regulates pay negotiations in the private sector. The CGSLB