Europeanisation-of-collective-bargaining by asafwewe


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									        Europeanisation of collective bargaining

  Européanisation des négociations collectives


1. Europeanisation of collective bargaining at national, intersectoral
a) Yes. Since the Act of 26 July 1996, each intersectoral collective agreement has included a
chapter on the maximum salary increase over the following two years. The wage norm is
fixed according to the weighted average hourly wage increase in GERMANY, FRANCE and the
NETHERLANDS. But the law ban taking account of changes in productivity.

b) the 1999-2000 central collective agreement which the social partners signed in December
1998 makes explicit reference to trends in wages in the three largest neighbouring countries.

It also make reference to :
 the level of expenditure on continuing vocational training, with a commitment on the part of
  the social partners to increase it to the average level of the three neighbouring countries
  within six years
 job creation
 the level of employers' social charges with a (conditional) commitment to reduce
  employer's charges of BEF 108 billions over six years to the average level of the three
  neighbouring countries.

Besides the above points, trade unions have also used European comparisons to demand
that blue-collar workers' status be brought closer to that of the white-collar workers in matters
of notice.

c) The DOORN meeting is neither a first nor a unique event but a stage in a process. These
meetings between trade unions from different countries started at LA ROCHE (Belgium) in
1997 and will continue in DÜSSELDORF in December 1999. In addition, a technical group is in
charge of the follow-up between annual meetings and their preparation. In fact what is called
"Doorn" today is essentially an ongoing process.

d) It is of course within UNICE, within which the Federation of Belgian Enterprises (Fédération
des Entreprises de Belgique - Verbond van Belgische Ondernemingen, FEB-VBO) is
represented, that common options are determined in matters of European policies. As
regards the consequences of European contacts on the national level, the FEB-VBO is at
present setting about acquiring the best possible knowledge of the rules in force in other
European countries.

2. Europeanisation of collective bargaining at sectoral level.

a) No

b) and c)
Metalworking sector : no

Banking/finance sector

Discussions are under y. The agreement will not be signed before 3-06-1999

As regards the European environment, the situation is as follows :
 on the employers' side, the only reference to European comparisons concerns compliance
  with the wage rise norm. It is also obvious that movements of concentrations and merges,
  although not explicitly mentioned, also influence the negotiations indirectly;
 on the trade unions' side, wage rises obtained in agreements already signed in other
  countries (in particular in the Netherlands) are advanced. The unions also want to stress
  the status of independent agents. They want the status (unique in Europe) of the
  temporary agencies independent employees to be reviewed , as it is clearly lower than the
  status of employees in the banking sector

c) Metalworking :

On 3 September 1998, the Belgian trade unions' presidents (Centrale des Métallurgistes de
Belgique - Centrale der Metaalindustrie van België, CMB-FGTB and Centrale Chrétienne du
Métal de Belgique, CCMB-CSC), those in the Netherlands (FNV) and in Germany
(IGMETALL), and the European Metalworkers Federation (EMF) agreed to associate or invite
observers from various organisations to future metalworking-sector negotiations in their
respective countries. The CMB and CCMB had already been associated with the drawing up
of the metalworking-sector's demands in the spring of 1998 in the Netherlands, but had not
actually been present during the discussions (Source : Syndicats, 09/10/98).

Belgian and Dutch unions have been present as observers in the metalworking-sector
negotiations in the Land of NORTH-RHINE-W ESTPHALIA.

Other sectors : statement of principle on tariff policy by the European Building and Wood
Federation (Fédération Européenne des Travailleurs du Bâtiment et du Bois) (Source : ETUI,
Collective bargaining in Western Europe 1997-1998, Brussels, 1999)

e) European coordination of metalworking industries' employers : no.

Banking / finance sector :

In the European Banking Federation (Fédération Bancaire Européenne), the Social Affairs
Committee makes it possible for members to exchange information on matters between the
members on matters of collective bargaining. As far as coordination between members with a
view to national collective negotiations is concerned, there is none at present but it is
conceivable in the near future.

f) There is coordination of trade unions in all European trade union confederations and the

3. Europeanisation of collective bargaining at enterprise level

a) and b)

Metalworking sector

In the negotiations in progress at the VW FOREST - BRUSSELS factory, comparisons focus on
headquarters productivity, Belgian wage costs and the organisation of working time (return to
six days instead of 35-32 hours, compared in particular with the VW BRATISLAVA plant.

c) to f) : no
g) in the banking sector

Trade union representatives in the European Works Council at the Générale de Banque
group meet regularly to make these comparisons with the long-term aim of defining a
common platform of demands.

In general, European Work Councils have created links between organisations and made
possible comparisons of social legislation and wage determination.

4. Employer and trade union perceptions on the Europeanisation of
collective bargaining.

4.1. a) and b)

For the FEB-VBO employers' organisation, European economic integration has already had
effects on national systems of collective bargaining (through the MAASTRICHT and AMSTERDAM
treaties), in the form of increased influence on the part of European institutions and
regulations. For the FEB-VBO, that influence is imposed by institutional and regulatory
evolution rather than desired. The employers' organisation insists on compliance with the
principle of subsidiary : when national regulations exist, a European regulation is superfluous.
That is why the FEB-VBO sees the agreements on parental leave and part-time work with a
critical eye.

However, for Belgian employers, the European Union plays an essential role in all matters of
the free movement of workers and the development of fundamental rights (equal treatment,
health care, etc.) and in preventing all distortions of competition.

c) Europeanisation is still limited to the exchange of information aimed at better knowledge of
national specifics as regards not only bargaining between social partners but also trade union
structures themselves. Europeanisation is a challenge, through the loss of "national
sovereignty" over wage bargaining that the creation of a European coordination implies, to
regain the lost bargaining field. In addition, Europeanisation must not become a pretext for
cutting social gains in countries that have better social protection by means of a levelling-
down process.

For Belgium, the imposition of a wage norm obviously makes the concept of the
Europeanisation of collective bargaining very easy (see answer 1).

d) In trade unions, Europeanisation has in particular led to :
 the need for better coordination between different levels, in particular between
  intersectoral-level bargaining (which negotiates the wage norm) and that at sectoral level
  (which traditionally negotiates wage formation).
 the reintroduction into the trade-union debate of the concept of productivity, linked to wage

4.2. a) This is an agreement internal to trade unions. The employers' federation FABRIMETAL
is in no way concerned.

In general, Fabrimetal is against institutionalised European dialogue. If contact on a specific
topic is organised for social dialogue, Fabrimetal will assess the matter on a case-by-case

b) See answer 2 c)

4.3. a) The banking sector ( Association Belge des Banques, ABB) has agreed to take part in
to the Sectoral Dialogue Committee, as it considered that this was the safest way of
preserving the social dialogue. It does not, however, consider there is sectoral bargaining at
present taking place at European level. Its preference is only that social dialogue places be
clearly identified and organised.

b) See answer 2 d

5. Research studies

Arcq E., Le Comité d'Entreprise européen, Centre de Recherche et d'Information Socio-
Politiques (CRISP), Courrier Hebdomadaire n°1339-1340, Brussels, 1991

Gobin C., L'Europe syndicale, Editions Labor, Brussels, 1997

Raulier A, Les Comités d'Entreprise européens : un premier bilan, Observatoire Social
Européen, Nota Bene n° 102, October 1997

Telo M. (sous la direction de), Quelle Union européenne ? Acquis institutionnel, acteurs et
défis, Editions de l'Université de Bruxelles, Brussels, 1994

6. National Centre views

The Belgian tradition of social dialogue could be reinforced by the European dynamic. The
intersectoral employers' organisation says it is ready to take part in a European dialogue, but
in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity. The sectors' position is more or less guarded,
according to each case. The employers' organisations want to take the European dynamic as
their basis to promote greater flexibility and to align social costs on those of neighbouring
countries. As far as the trade union organisations are concerned, they want a social dialogue
but fear greater deregulation of social acquired rights and social legislation.

26 May 1999

Philippe Dryon

Estelle Krzeslo

With the collaboration of : Mr. Rafaël Lamas (FGTB-ABW), Ms . Sonja Kohnenmergen (FEB-
VBO), Mr. Coulon (Association Belge des Banques, ABB), Ms. Storm (Fabrimetal)

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