Hyppää pääsisältöön
Image of group during company-level meeting around boardroom table

Collective bargaining

Collective bargaining refers to all negotiations between one or more employers (or their organisations) and one or more workers’ organisations (trade unions) for determining working conditions and terms of employment, including issues related to pay and working time, and for regulating relations between employers and workers, as outlined in ILO Convention 154. A number of dimensions of collective bargaining (‘bargaining structure’) have been identified. These include coverage which refers to the percentage of employees directly affected by agreements; the level that bargaining occurs at; the scope, or range of topics encompassed by bargaining; and depth – that is the extent to which agreements are jointly implemented and reviewed.

Topic

Recent updates

Eurofound research

Eurofound collects country-level information on collective bargaining in the EU through its Network of Eurofound Correspondents. Across the EU, collective bargaining coverage is very diverse, as Eurofound research shows. About 60% of employees are covered by collective bargaining in the EU, but this ranges from 80% or more in some countries to less than 10% in others (European Commission data).

Collective bargaining in the Member States

Eurofound’s working life country profiles outline the collective bargaining systems in the EU Member States and Norway.

Research in 2022 looks at the developments in collective bargaining as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Separate studies in 2022 will also examine the role of social dialogue and collective bargaining in how two sectors that were hard hit by the pandemic are adapting, namely civil aviation and hospitals. 

Closely linked to the country profiles is the database of wages, working time and collective disputes, providing regular updates on the pay and working time setting systems in place in each country and including data on the level of collectively agreed pay or working time from 2000 to 2019.

An earlier study on collective bargaining in Europe in the 21st century maps developments over a 15-year period in the main aspects of collective bargaining – apart from pay and working time, which are analysed separately. 

Collective bargaining on pay

Eurofound reports regularly on pay developments across the EU, monitoring how pay outcomes adjust in line with changes in economic circumstances. 

National wage-bargaining institutions are crucial in achieving pay outcomes that help to increase employment and economic growth. Using a large set of empirical macroeconomic data from various sources, Eurofound’s report on pay in Europe in different wage-bargaining regimes analyses how the institutional features of national wage bargaining regimes influence pay outcomes.

A study on pay in Europe in the 21st century provides comparative time series on wage bargaining outcomes across the EU Member States and Norway. In doing so, it discusses pay developments against the background of different wage bargaining regimes and looks into the link between pay and productivity developments.

Collective bargaining on working time

Eurofound monitors the nature and extent of the role of collective bargaining in determining working time across the Member States, taking into account that bargaining takes place at different levels (intersectoral, sectoral, company) and that bargaining coverage varies considerably by country.

Research on working time developments in the 21st century looks at work duration and its regulation in the EU. The report examines the main trends and milestones characterising the evolution of the most important aspects of collectively agreed working time in the EU during the first decade of the 21st century.

Eurofound also produces a bi-annual report on the major developments in working time in the EU and Norway based on national reporting. It provides a general overview of the present status of the duration of working time as a result of collective bargaining, and complements the database of wages, working time and collective disputes. 

Survey data on collective wage agreements in Europe

Eurofound’s European Company Survey (ECS) gathers data on collective wage agreements and looks at the extent to which establishments are covered by collective bargaining at any level. It examines the level of information provision, consultation and negotiation in establishments and also looks at the influence of employee representation and social dialogue at company level. 

Key outputs

eurofound-placeholder

Collective bargaining systems in the EU have undergone a steady change since the end of the 1990s. But as businesses across Europe struggle to respond to intensifying global competition, pressure...

4 marraskuu 2015
Publication
Research report
eurofound-placeholder

National wage-bargaining institutions are crucial in achieving pay outcomes that help to increase employment and economic growth within the context of avoiding macroeconomic imbalances within the European Monetary Union. Using...

11 syyskuu 2015
Publication
Research report
eurofound-placeholder

The issue of wages has attracted particular attention at European level since the onset of the economic crisis. Changes in economic governance, notably within the European semester, have prompted discussions...

13 huhtikuu 2014
Publication
Research report

EU context

Collective bargaining, the core of organised industrial relations, takes place in different institutional settings. National systems vary in terms of the respective roles of collective bargaining and legislation in regulating the labour market, in the levels at which bargaining is conducted (cross-sectoral, sectoral, company and workplace, regional, occupational), and in the way in which negotiations at different levels may interrelate (articulation). The degrees of centralisation and coordination of collective bargaining – and especially pay bargaining – are important features of the system, with implications for both labour market and macroeconomic outcomes. The outcome of collective bargaining is typically a collective agreement. Such agreements can regulate both the procedures for relations between the signatory parties and the terms and conditions of employment of those workers covered by the agreement, such as pay and working time.

While the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union recognises the autonomy of social partners, in particular in relation to pay bargaining, EU policies nevertheless exert a significant influence on collective bargaining and the wider industrial relations system. For example, the country-specific recommendations (CSRs) in the framework of the European Semester have addressed issues such as aligning pay developments with productivity, minimum wage-setting and pay indexation systems. More generally, collective bargaining takes place within a framework which is, in part, set by EU legislation, including provisions concerning equal pay for work of equal value and the requirements of the Working Time Directive and related legislation.

 

Eurofound expert(s)

christine-aumayr-2023.png

Christine Aumayr-Pintar is a senior research manager in the Working Life unit at Eurofound. Her current research topics include minimum wages, collectively agreed wages and gender...

Senior research manager,
Working life research unit
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
maria-sedlakova-2023.png

Mária Sedláková is a research officer in the Working Life unit at Eurofound. She is responsible for drafting overview reports for sectoral representativeness studies, management...

Research officer,
Working life research unit
Publications results (141)

In this pilot project, Eurofound successfully established the feasibility of, and piloted, an EU-wide database of minimum pay rates contained in collective agreements related to low-paid workers. A conceptual and measurement framework was devised, a total of 692 collective agreements – related to 24

26 January 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

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

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, drawing on debates about the reduction of working time and the four-day working week.

24 October 2023

After a long period of price stability, inflation has made a remarkable comeback in the EU. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the energy crisis spurred by Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and the disruption of the international supply chain, among other factors, have driven up the

06 September 2023

This report investigates the involvement of social partners in the just transition to a climate-neutral economy, with a particular focus on the territorial just transition plans. These plans aim to support the regions most negatively affected by the just transition by assisting workers to retrain

19 July 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 (700)

A look behind 80% bargaining coverage: What do collective agreements actually contain?

The EU Minimum Wage Directive aims to achieve a collective bargaining coverage of 80%. However, not all collective agreements regulate workers’ pay and in some cases pay rates remain outdated for too long.

ef22039.png

Collective bargaining and social dialogue – Back to normal in 2021?

Two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, social dialogue continues to make a significant contribution to helping economies recover. Managing the crisis led many governments to rely on tripartite social dialogue to develop the policies that would mitigate the negative impact of the

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

ef21021.png

Impact of the COVID-19 crisis on wages and wage setting

The COVID-19 crisis had a significant impact on wages and wage setting across Europe in 2020. The uncertain economic scenario, together with the difficulties inherent in online bargaining, led to a general postponement of collective agreements to 2021, especially at company level. Real wages

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

Labour market regulation, effectiveness of legal rights and obligations, and safety and health at work 9 March 2021 Presentation by Barbara Gerstenberger, Head of unit - Working life, Eurofound

9 maaliskuu 2021
image_article_minimum_wage_17022020.png

EU seeks views on the minimum wage

Against a background of growing polarisation, it is worth remembering the model of social dialogue that allows us each year to debate and reach thousands of agreements that start from different and distant positions and interests.

image_article_ef19062_-_to_have_or_have_not_22072019.png

To have or have not: A statutory minimum wage

​​​​​​​Cyprus and Italy are currently considering the introduction of a universal minimum wage floor by law. With this move, they would be joining 22 other EU Member States that already have one in place. In the remaining Member States – Austria, Denmark, Finland and Sweden – and in Norway, too, min

Portugal: latest working life developments Q2 2018

The new tripartite action plan to combat job insecurity and new measures to promote collective bargaining are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on one of the latest developments in working life in Portugal in the second quarter of 2018.


Blogs results (7)

The COVID-19 pandemic made us acutely aware of how dependent our society is on certain essential workers. We felt deep gratitude towards workers in healthcare especially, because they worked ceaselessly in often-difficult conditions.

22 marraskuu 2023
ef20082.png

Whatever the benefits of telework – and there are many, including more flexible working time, increased productivity and less commuting – there are drawbacks, as many of the one-third of Europeans who were exclusively working from home during the pandemic will attest. Primary among these is the ‘alw

3 joulukuu 2020
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 lokakuu 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 huhtikuu 2020
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 marraskuu 2019
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 huhtikuu 2019
dmwr2btpmzmq8yibnnb9.jpg

​Nowadays we all know that long or excessive working hours may have serious negative impacts on a person’s health and wellbeing. Eurofound‘s new report 'Working time developments in the 21st century' suggests that if working time standards are mainly left to legislation or to be set unilaterally by

4 maaliskuu 2016
Upcoming publications results (7)

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

July 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 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. The topics covered include the political context in 2023; updates on the social partners and social dialogue ins

July 2024
Data results (1)

The database on minimum wage rates in collective agreements related to low-paid workers is available as interactive dashboard.

14 helmikuu 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.