Skip to main content
topic_industrialrelations.jpg

Industrial relations

Trade unions, employer organisations and public authorities all play a role in the governance of the employment relationship. They are interlocking parts in a system that operates at European, national, sectoral, regional and company level. In recent years, as technology and forms of work evolve within a constantly changing economic environment, industrial relations systems have faced critical challenges.

    Topic

    Recent updates

    Eurofound research

    Over 40 years, Eurofound has developed as a key centre of expertise for monitoring and analysing trends in industrial relations. This includes linkages between European and national-level social dialogue. Drawing on the knowledge of its Network of Eurofound Correspondents in the EU Member States and Norway, it has captured developments in all Member States and in the EU as a whole. 

    Eurofound has produced a range of comparative analyses, articles and case studies across the EU and Norway in the area of industrial relations, as well as regularly updated databases on related topics.

    Research maps and discusses key dimensions and indicators relevant to industrial relations systems in Europe in the 21st century. Another thread of research looks at how social partners in the EU and Norway have explored new topics, tools and innovative approaches to respond to the many new political, legal and social challenges that have arisen in recent years.

    Pay and working time continue to be areas of high interest and are reviewed annually. One strand of the recent pay update focuses on statutory minimum wage levels across the EU while another focuses on collective wage bargaining

    Since 2006, Eurofound has been carrying out studies on the representativeness of European sectoral social partner organisations, as mandated by the European Commission. These studies are designed to provide the basic information needed for the setting up and functioning of the European sectoral social dialogue committees.

    Resources

    Key outputs

    ef23007-card-cover.png

    This report examines the average weekly working hours across Europe in 2021 and 2022. It covers important developments resulting from legislative reforms in collective bargaining at national or sectoral level...

    24 October 2023
    Publication
    Research report
    ef23019_card_cover.png

    The 2023 annual review of minimum wages was prepared in the context of unprecedented inflation across Europe. While this led to hefty increases in nominal wage rates in many countries...

    29 June 2023
    Publication
    Research report
    ef20023_card_cover.png

    As part of its mandate to promote dialogue between management and labour, Eurofound has monitored and analysed developments in industrial relations systems at EU level and in EU Member States...

    11 December 2020
    Publication
    Flagship report

    EU context

    In this context, the European Commission in 2015 launched a ‘new start’ for European social dialogue. In a joint statement in June 2016, the Commission, Council of the European Union and social partners underlined its fundamental role as a significant component of EU employment and social policymaking.

    In September 2023, Commission President von der Leyen announced a social partner summit with European social partners in Val Duchesse in 2024 to address labour and skills shortages, echoing the summit on social dialogue at the same location almost 40 years ago. 

    Eurofound expert(s)

    ricardo-rodriguez-contreras-2023.png

    Ricardo Rodriguez Contreras is a research manager in the Working Life unit at Eurofound and focuses on comparative industrial relations, social dialogue and collective bargaining...

    Research manager,
    Working life research unit
    victoria-cojocariu-2023.png

    Victoria Cojocariu is a research support officer for the representativeness studies in the Working Life unit at Eurofound. She is responsible for the management of the research...

    Research support officer,
    Working life research unit
    Publications results (516)

    Three years after the adoption of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), this report reviews the quality of the social partners’ involvement in 2023 in the ongoing implementation of reforms and investments funded by that initiative. It also examines the quality of their involvement in the prepa

    26 February 2024

    This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the furniture sector.

    08 December 2023

    Previous Eurofound research developed three complementary tools to examine the dynamics of industrial relations and compare how national industrial relations systems are faring in terms of quality and change over time.

    05 December 2023

    In the EU, non-compliance with statutory or negotiated minimum wages averages 6.93% or 1.3%, depending on the statistics used. The lowest national estimate is 0.01% in Belgium and the highest is 11.59% in Hungary.

    27 November 2023

    This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the woodworking sector.

    21 November 2023

    This study provides information to allow for an assessment of the representativeness of the national and supranational social partners at cross-industry level in the EU.

    09 November 2023

    This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the professional football sector.

    26 October 2023

    After a long period of price stability, inflation has made a remarkable comeback in the EU. While nominal wages picked up in 2021 and 2022, real wage growth has remained below inflation, affecting mainly low-income groups.

    06 September 2023

    The 2023 annual review of minimum wages was prepared in the context of unprecedented inflation across Europe. While this led to hefty increases in nominal wage rates in many countries, it was in many cases not enough to maintain workers’ purchasing power. Based on developments over the last decade,

    29 June 2023

    This publication comprises individual country reports on developments in working life in each of the 27 EU Member States and Norway in 2022, based on national research and survey results. The topics covered include the policy responses of governments to inflation and how inflation has featured in

    05 May 2023

    Online resources results (1688)
    Image of young women placing an order to a waiter in a cafe

    Minimum wages in Belgium

    Minimum wages in Belgium exist at national and sectoral levels and are the outcome of collective bargaining. The national minimum wage typically lags behind sectoral minimum wages in Belgium, and policymakers have been concerned about the relative decrease in the national minimum wage compared with

    ef23050.png

    Cyprus introduces a national statutory minimum wage

    On 31 August 2022, a new decree on minimum wages was published in Cyprus after a long and arduous process of negotiations and social dialogue. The ministerial decree, which came into effect on 1 January 2023, established a national minimum wage in Cyprus for the first time, a groundbreaking and cont

    image_article_minimum_wage_ef23051.png

    Minimum wage debate in Italy

    Italy has no minimum wage prescribed by law. Minimum wages are set through collective agreements at sectoral level, and the majority of employees in Italy are covered by a collective bargaining agreement in which wages are set. This article outlines the latest positions (2023) of the government and

    ef22081.png

    Measures to lessen the impact of the inflation and energy crisis on citizens

    As governments across the EU continue to implement policies to support citizens and businesses in the face of rising food and energy prices caused by the COVID-19 crisis and intensified by the war in Ukraine, this article summarises the policy responses as reported in Eurofound’s EU PolicyWatch

    image_news_item_20012023.png

    Minimum wage hikes struggle to offset inflation

    As the EU economy advanced its recovery following the pandemic, the high rate of inflation throughout 2022 meant that wage setting actors made their decisions under a cloud of uncertainty. While nominal increases in statutory minimum wages reached an all-time high, minimum wage workers in most count

    ef22067.png

    First responses to cushion the impact of inflation on citizens

    Although the worldwide pandemic situation had already disrupted supply chains and triggered increases in energy and food prices in 2021, the situation deteriorated in 2022 with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Governments throughout the EU had already started to intervene with policy measures in a

    ef22072.png

    Policies to support EU companies affected by the war in Ukraine

    As the war in Ukraine has intensified, the cost of food, raw materials and energy prices, already high due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has continued to rise substantially. Ahead of coordinated action at EU level, as agreed by EU energy ministers on 9 September 2022, governments across the EU have

    ef22041.png

    Minimum wages in 2022: Bigger hikes this time around

    The first overview of minimum wage setting for 2022 shows that, while some negotiations are still ongoing, virtually all EU Member States have increased their nominal statutory rates. Compared to last year, when most countries settled for cautious increases against a background of deep uncertainty

    ef21018.png

    Mixed impacts of COVID-19 on social dialogue and collective bargaining in 2020

    ​​​​​​​A first analysis of developments in working life in 2020 shows that the COVID-19 pandemic had a considerable impact on social dialogue and collective bargaining in the EU, Norway and the UK, albeit to varying degrees. While in some countries, standard procedures were by and large maintained

    ef21061.png

    Minimum wages in 2021: Most countries settle for cautious increase

    ​​​​​​​Despite the unusually tough economic and labour market conditions, most EU Member States made nominal and real increases to their minimum wages in 2020. This is what a first overview of recent minimum wage developments reveals. Some countries lived up to earlier promises or pre-agreements


    Blogs results (18)
    ef22069.png

    Minimum wages have risen significantly in 2022, as the EU Member States leave behind the cautious mood of the pandemic. However, rising inflation is eating up these wage increases, and only flexibility in the regular minimum wage setting processes may avoid generalised losses in purchasing power

    15 June 2022
    image_blog_collective_bargaining_28102020.png

    In the context of the ongoing trend of a fall in collective bargaining coverage, and recent calls at EU level to promote collective bargaining coverage as an instrument to support fair and decent wages, new data from Eurofound’s fourth European Company Survey (ECS) show that two-thirds of workers (i

    28 October 2020
    image_blog_minimum_wages_10032020.png

    The coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is having drastic consequences for the world of work. In most European countries workers who are not delivering essential ‘frontline’ services are being asked to stay home. Unfortunately many are out of work, while many of those who are not are minimum-wage and low

    1 April 2020
    main_image_blog_ef20039.png

    As one of their ‘100 days in office’ initiatives, the new European Commission intends to propose an initiative for an EU minimum wage. The aim is that by 2024 every worker in the EU should earn a fair and adequate wage, no matter where they live.

    15 January 2020
    image_blog_unions_20112019.png

    Trade unions in many EU Member States face the issue of declining membership. This is a fundamental challenge for organised labour, but it is premature to speak about the redundancy unions: when it comes to important decisions affecting the workplace, restructuring being one, trade unions remain a

    20 November 2019
    image_blog_100_years_12112019.png

    The International Labour Organization (ILO) met for the first time 100 years ago, and right at the top of the agenda for discussion for this new specialised UN agency was the 8-hour working day. This discussion subsequently resulted in the Hours of Work (Industry) Convention, which stated that ‘The

    12 November 2019
    image_blog_joint_cross_border_inspections_17072019.png

    The European Platform Tackling Undeclared Work last year documented the case of a Dutch temporary work agency that hired workers of various nationalities to work for a construction company in Belgium. The wages were suspiciously low, and the Belgian Labour Inspectorate believed that EU law

    17 July 2019
    ef19051.png

    The votes have been cast, tallied and declared and we can now see the political landscape of the new European Parliament. It is a complex picture: there has been growth of far-right and populist parties, but well short of what was projected, and at the same time there has been a boost for pro

    seniority-based-entitlements-blog.jpg

    Seniority entitlements have largely been on the decline since the 1990s, and have been gradually phased-out from legislation in Europe, as well as in collective agreements. However, it would be premature to dismiss seniority-based entitlements as a thing of the past, as they remain in force across E

    17 April 2019
    image1_what_about_men_blog_27042018.jpg

    In this blog piece, originally published in Social Europe, Karel Fric and Camilla Galli da Bino look at the issue of discrimination against men in the workplace in Europe, and the current lack of research in this area.

    1 May 2018

    Upcoming publications results (9)

    This report reviews the quality of the national social partners’ involvement in the implementation of the reforms and investments shaping the digital and green transition in the context of national policymaking. These reforms and investments stem mainly from the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

    March 2025

    This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the extractive industries sector. Their relative representativeness legitimises their right to be consulted, their role and effective par

    December 2024

    This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the construction sector. Their relative representativeness legitimises their right to be consulted, their role and effective participatio

    December 2024

    This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the chemical sector. Their relative representativeness legitimises their right to be consulted, their role and effective participation in

    December 2024

    This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the road transport sector. Their relative representativeness legitimises their right to be consulted, their role and effective participat

    December 2024

    This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the postal and courier activities sector. Their relative representativeness legitimises their right to be consulted, their role and effec

    November 2024

    This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the graphical industry. Their relative representativeness legitimises their right to be consulted, their role and effective participation

    November 2024

    This publication comprises individual country reports on developments in working life in each of the 27 EU Member States and Norway in 2023, based on national research and survey results.

    June 2024

    The 2024 annual review of minimum wages presents the most recent rates of national minimum wages and recalls how they were set and agreed upon during 2023. It includes information on minimum wages set in sectoral collective agreements in countries without national minimum wages.

    June 2024

    Disclaimer

    When freely submitting your request, you are consenting Eurofound in handling your personal data to reply to you. Your request will be handled in accordance with the provisions of Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2018 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and on the free movement of such data. More information, please read the Data Protection Notice.