Luxembourg: Latest developments in working life Q4 2019
The future of national tripartite negotiations and the integration of a transport sector trade union into the Independent Luxembourg Trade Union Confederation are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Luxembourg in the fourth quarter of 2019.
National tripartite negotiations under pressure
While tripartite relations had already been at a standstill since 2009 at the national level, this trend continued in September 2019 with the employer umbrella organisation Union of Luxembourg Enterprises (UEL) breaking off the negotiations in September 2019 during a meeting of the tripartite permanent committee for labour and employment (CPTE). Since 2007, the CPTE has served as the arena to negotiate and draft new employment legislation. CPTE’s activities had been rekindled by the government after the global financial crisis in 2008, whereas before that time social dialogue had been limited to the conclusion of bilateral agreements between the government and social partners.
In breaking off the negotations, UEL emphasised that the outcome of social partner negotiations of the last 40 years has often been to the detriment of employers  with government positions often more closely aligned to trade union proposals, which led to modifications of labour legislation.  The UEL proposed that government decisions should be based on bilateral negotiations with employer organisations and trade unions. The UEL stated that the economic and social challenges of the 21st century, as well as the importance of creating an appropriate socio-economic environment for companies requires a new way to conduct negotiations between social partners. 
The UEL, the representative trade unions and the government met on 2 December within the framework of the CPTE. Dan Kersch, Minister of Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy, said that the atmosphere had been positive, but pointed out that this meeting provided discussions rather than negotiations, as employers cannot negotiate again within the CPTE.  Concerning the general position of the UEL, the new president of the Independent Luxembourg Trade Union Confederation (OGBL) highlighted during the organisation’s 8th Congress in early December that the trade union prefers social dialogue to negotiate compromises. In this context, the president of the OGBL also proposes to reinforce social dialogue in Luxembourg by integrating it into the new constitutional project that is still in the pipeline. The Minister of Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy noted during the same congress that social dialogue remains a key pillar in managing social relations in Luxembourg.
Transport sector trade union integrates into OGBL
The National Federation of Railway Workers, Transport Workers and Luxembourg Employees (Fncttfel), which represents around 6,000 to 7,000 railroad employees and civil servants in the sector (including pensioners), integrated into OGBL on a provisional basis starting from July 2020.  This step was conducted gradually, as delegates voted for the provisional incorporation into OGBL, with the process to be provisionally wrapped up in 2022. The decision was based on a non-secret vote cast on 2 December 2019 during a congress of the Fncttfel.
Fncttfel will have an autonomous structure within OGBL. Membership fees of Fncttfel members will first be transferred to the Fncttfel and then to OGBL. Fncttfel pensioners will stay within the structure and will not, as is the case for OGBL pensioners, be integrated into the OGBL pensioners’ department.  Both unions had already signed a cooperation agreement in 2011 and have collaborated under the umbrella organisation the Luxembourg General Confederation of Labour (CGT-L). During a press conference, Fncttfel ex-president Nico Wennmacher emphasised the need to form a single trade union, stressing that the various employer organisations are united in the UEL. 
The decision by the employers to renegotiate the terms of national tripartite negotiations in the employment committee has a broader impact on national social dialogue. Employers feel disadvantaged by the previous tripartite negotiations and have tried to persuade the government to engage in bilateral negotiations and agreements, a trend identified as a new post-crisis element of Luxembourg’s model of social relations.