Italian and German woodworkers' unions to coordinate bargaining policies at European level

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In June 1999, a first agreement was signed between Italian (Fillea-Cgil, Filca-Cisl, Feneal-Uil) and German (GHK) trade unions representing wood and furniture workers. The agreement calls for the establishment of a European collective bargaining committee aimed at defining common bargaining objectives.

On 18 June 1999, the German woodworkers' trade union (Gewerkschaft Holz und Kunststoff, GHK) and the Italian woodworkers' unions affiliated to the Cgil, Cisl and Uil confederations - Fillea, Filca and Feneal- signed a first agreement establishing a bilateral collaboration. From 1 January 2000, GHK will become part of the IG Metall metalworkers' union.

In their agreement, the organisations propose to Europe's other national sectoral federations and to the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) to establish within EFBWW's standing committee on woodworking a "European collective bargaining committee for the wood and furniture sector". This committee, after having gathered information on the bargaining systems and productive structures of the various European countries, would present a coherent and systematic picture of the European situation in the sector. It would also draw up, at European and local level, common positions towards the European Union and employers' organisations.

The agreement provides that GHK, Fillea-Cgil, Filca-Cisl and Feneal-Uil will start a continuing exchange of information on the general and sectoral economic situation in their countries (inflation rate, productivity, wage policies etc), on industrial relations (bargaining results, important meetings and planned meetings to negotiate national collective agreements) and on bargaining results (wages in particular). The exchange of information will also concern the development of national employment legislation and of the sector.

A joint meeting will be held at the end of every year to assess the situation, involving all the organisations which are represented on the new collective bargaining committee. The agenda and programme will be defined during the first half of the year by the union officials responsible for the new information service, to be appointed by the Italian and German organisations. A specific consultation and coordination meeting will be held before every important bargaining round. Subjects such as working time, job classification and wages will be the main items on the agenda during those meetings.

The national secretary of Filca-Cisl, Piero Baroni, said that the agreement is "the first important step towards concertation with the major European trade union organisations on bargaining and sectoral industrial policies".

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