Trade union federation in strong position after workplace elections
At Luxembourg’s workplace elections, which took place in November 2008, workers elected personnel delegations in companies with more than 15 employees, along with representatives for the newly formed Employee Chamber. While the number of seats won by both of the main trade unions was higher than in the 2003 elections, the Independent Trade Union Confederation of Luxembourg clearly consolidated its position compared with the Luxembourg Christian Trade Union Confederation.
On 12 November 2008, Luxembourg’s workplace elections – also known as social elections –took place. As part of these elections, workers voted for personnel delegations in companies with over 15 employees, as well as representatives for the recently formed Employee Chamber (Chambre des salariés, CSL) (LU0809019I), which commenced operations in January 2009.
Trade union candidates
In total, more than 1,600 delegations were formed, comprising almost 6,000 personnel representatives. Some 11 trade unions presented lists of candidates during the elections. In addition, a number of ‘neutral’ candidates with no trade union affiliation were put forward for election. Since the level of trade union membership is relatively low in small companies, many candidates stand for election on independent, neutral lists or on an individual basis. Overall, candidates with no trade union backing represent just over 47% of those elected.
Relative positions consolidated
The Independent Trade Union Confederation of Luxembourg (Onofhängege Gewerkschaftsbond Lëtzebuerg, OGB-L) put forward some 5,100 candidates in total. At the end of the elections, OGB-L won about 30% of the seats overall. The Luxembourg Christian Trade Union Confederation (Lëtzebuerger Chrëschtleche Gewerkschafts-Bond, LCGB), on other hand, achieved a smaller proportion of just 15% of the seats. The relative positions of the two trade union confederations have therefore shifted, with OGBL strengthening its position following the workplace elections.
The Luxembourg Association of Bank and Insurance Employees (Association Luxembourgeoise des Employés de Banque et Assurance, ALEBA), a trade union in the financial services sector, also consolidated its position: about 400 of its delegates were elected, constituting almost 7% of the total, despite the fact that it only put forward candidates from a single sector. Meanwhile, the Neutral Trade Union Luxembourg/Neutral Trade Union of Private Sector Employees (Neutral Gewerkschaft Lëtzebuerg/Syndicat Neutre des Employés Privés, NGL/Snep) won 30 seats.
In the industry sector, OGB-L won the majority of seats in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), while LCGB strengthened its dominant position in large companies such as Goodyear, Paul Würth and DuPont de Nemours. OGB-L still maintained the majority of seats in the maintenance and repair of motor vehicles sector. This is a particularly important result for the trade union since the whole sector is covered by a single collective agreement which will have to be renegotiated. OGB-L also holds a majority in the energy sector. In the food sector, the position is more balanced, with OGB-L winning about 70 seats and LCGB holding only slightly fewer. In this sector, many delegates are ‘neutral’ and collective agreements are infrequent.
In certain sectors, OGB-L is historically dominant and way ahead of the other trade unions. These include the health and social work sector, where OGBL has about 350 elected representatives compared with LCGB’s 60 representatives and the 20 representatives recorded for all the other lists.
In the financial services sector, ALEBA won just over 51% of the votes, which strengthens its position, despite the fact that it failed to succeed in dominating all financial institutions. In this sector, OBG-L maintained 22% of the votes, compared with 12% for LCGB.
OGB-L has noticed a significant increase in trade union membership in the engineering industry. Large trust companies and big architectural firms, on the other hand, remain weak areas for the trade unions. A similar situation applies to the hotel, restaurant and catering sector, where OGB-L has few representatives and where no increase has been recorded in the percentage of people belonging to a trade union. The number of trade union members only increases as the number of jobs in the sector rises.
Election results for Employee Chamber
The general trend was also confirmed in the election results for Luxembourg’s Employee Chamber. In this respect, OGB-L won 36 of the 60 seats contested. The Employee Chamber is divided into nine sectoral groups. Altogether, up to 391,026 potential voters took part, and the overall rate of participation was 36%. The highest level of participation was in Group 8 – representing the ‘Active and retired workers in the Luxembourg railways’ – which recorded a participation rate of over 80%. The lowest level of participation was found in Groups 5 and 3, which represent workers in the services and construction sectors respectively: the participation rate in these sectors amounted to just over 26%, despite the fact that these two branches alone account for 20 seats, representing almost 190,000 workers.
Odette Wlodarski, Prevent