ETUC executive committee endorses guideline on collective bargaining coordination

In December 2000, the European Trade Union Confederation's executive committee welcomed and endorsed a guideline on the coordination of wage bargaining, formulated by the ETUC's committee for the coordination of collective bargaining.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) set up a "committee for the coordination of collective bargaining" at its ninth congress, held in Helsinki in June-July 1999 (EU9907182F). Since that time, the committee has been working to develop strategies for the coordination of collective bargaining at European level, and recently formulated a guideline on the coordination of collective bargaining, which was discussed and endorsed through a recommendation at an ETUC executive committee meeting on 14–15 December 2000.

The guideline's three main objectives are as follows:

  • to allow trade unions at European level to provide a general indication of wage bargaining developments in response to the European Commission's broad economic policy guidelines and European Central Bank (ECB) guidelines, and generally to influence the "macroeconomic dialogue" at European level (EU9906180N);
  • to avoid situations which may lead to social and wage "dumping" and wage divergence in Europe; and
  • to coordinate wage claims in Europe, and especially in those countries which are part of the euro single currency area, and to encourage an "upward convergence" of living standards in Europe.

The guidelines contains a formula for pay claims, as follows:

  • nominal wage increases should at least exceed inflation, while maximising the proportion of productivity allocated to the rise in gross wages in order to secure a better balance between profits and wages; and
  • any remaining part of productivity should be used to fund other aspects in collective agreements, such as "qualitative aspects of work where these are quantifiable and calculable in terms of cost".

Furthermore, public and private sector pay should increase in parallel.

The guideline emphasises two other aspects of collective bargaining in particular for the forthcoming period: developing the right of all workers to training and life-long learning as an investment in the quality of work; and combating low pay and securing equal pay between men and women for equal work and work of equal value.

The ETUC executive committee stated that, as part of the implementation procedures relating to this guideline, it will review wage developments each year and progress on qualitative aspects of work every two years. This will be carried out in the basis of a common analysis of the situation in EU Member States and Member States of the European Economic Area. In addition, ETUC invites its affiliated organisations in the countries applying for membership of the European Union to take part in the evaluation exercise.

Guidelines on the coordination of collective bargaining have already been agreed by a number of European sectoral trade union organisations - see, for example, DE9812283F, EU9910205N and EU9809128F- and between national union organisations in some countries - DE0009281F.

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