Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Sea and coastal water transport

  • National Contribution:

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Industrial relations,
  • Representativeness,
  • Date of Publication: 04 September 2008



About
Author:
Georg Adam
Institution:

This study sets out to provide the necessary information for establishing sectoral social dialogue in the sea and coastal water transport sector. First, the report identifies the relevant national organisations on both sides of industry. Second, it analyses the sector’s relevant European organisations. The study consists of three main parts: a summary of the sector’s economic background; an analysis of the social partner organisations in all of the EU Member States(with the exception of Hungary and Slovakia), with special emphasis on their membership, their role in collective bargaining and public policy, and their national and European affiliations; and finally, an analysis of the relevant European organisations, in particular their membership composition and their capacity to negotiate. The aim of the EIRO series of studies on representativeness is to identify the relevant national and supranational social partner organisations in the field of industrial relations in selected sectors. The impetus for these studies arises from the goal of the European Commission to recognise the representative social partner organisations to be consulted under the EC Treaty provisions. Hence, this study is designed to provide the basic information required to establish sectoral social dialogue.

The study was compiled on the basis of individual national reports submitted by the EIRO correspondents. The text of each of these national reports is available below. The national reports were drawn up in response to a questionnaire and should be read in conjunction with it.

Download the full report (695KB PDF)

National contributions may be available


Objectives of study

The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the relevant national and supranational associational actors – that is, the trade unions and employer organisations – in the field of industrial relations in the sea and coastal water transport sector, and show how these actors relate to the sector’s European interest associations of labour and business. The impetus for this study, and for similar studies in other sectors, arises from the aim of the European Commission to identify the representative social partner organisations to be consulted under the provisions of the EC Treaty. Hence, this study seeks to provide basic information needed to set up sectoral social dialogue. The effectiveness of European social dialogue depends on whether its participants are sufficiently representative in terms of the sector’s relevant national actors across the EU Member States. Therefore, only European organisations which meet this precondition will be admitted to the European social dialogue.

Against this background, the study will first identify the relevant national social partner organisations in the sea and coastal water transport sector, subsequently analysing the structure of the sector’s relevant European organisations, in particular their membership composition. This involves clarifying the unit of analysis at both the national and European level of interest representation. The study includes only organisations whose membership domain is ‘sector-related’ (see below). At both national and European levels, a multiplicity of associations exist which are not considered as social partner organisations as they essentially deal with industrial relations. Thus, there is a need for clear-cut criteria which will enable analysis to differentiate the social partner organisations from other associations.

As regards the national-level associations, classification as a sector-related social partner organisation implies fulfilling one of two criteria: the associations must either be a party to ‘sector-related’ collective bargaining or a member of a ‘sector-related’ European association of business or labour that is on the Commission’s list of European social partner organisations consulted under Article 138 of the EC Treaty. Affiliation to a European social partner organisation and involvement in national collective bargaining are of utmost importance to the European social dialogue. Following the criteria for national organisations, this study includes those sector-related European organisations that are on the Commission’s list of consultation. In addition, the report considers any other sector-related European association with sector-related national social partner organisations under its umbrella. Thus, the aim to identify the sector-related national and European social partner organisations applies both a ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approach.

Definitions

For the purpose of this study, the sea and coastal water transport sector is defined in terms of the Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community (Nomenclature statistique des activités économiques dans la Communauté européenne, NACE), to ensure the cross-national comparability of the research findings. More specifically, the sea and coastal water transport sector is defined as NACE 61.1.

The domains of the trade unions and employer organisations and scope of the relevant collective agreements are likely to vary from this precise NACE demarcation. The study therefore includes all trade unions, employer organisations and multi-employer collective agreements which are ‘sector-related’ in terms of any of the following four aspects or patterns:

  • congruence – the domain of the organisation or scope of the collective agreement must be identical to the NACE demarcation, as specified above;
  • sectionalism – the domain or scope covers only a certain part of the sector, as defined by the aforementioned NACE demarcation, while no group outside the sector is covered;
  • overlap – the domain or scope covers the entire sector along with parts of one or more other sectors. However, it is important to note that the study does not include general associations which do not deal with sector-specific matters;
  • sectional overlap – the domain or scope covers part of the sector as well as parts of one or more other sectors.

At European level, the European Commission established a European Social Dialogue Committee for the sea transport sector in 1999. The European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) participate in the sector’s European social dialogue. Thus, affiliation to one of these European organisations is a sufficient criterion for classifying a national association as a social partner organisation for the purposes of this study. However, it should be noted that the constituent criterion is one of sector-related membership. This is important in the case of ETF due to its multi-sectoral domain. Thus, the study will include only the organisations affiliated to ETF whose domain relates to the sea and coastal water transport sector.

Collection of data

The collection of quantitative data, such as those on membership, is essential for investigating the representativeness of the social partner organisations. Unless cited otherwise, this study draws on the country studies provided by the EIRO national centres. It is often difficult to find precise quantitative data. In such cases, rough estimates are provided rather than leaving a question blank, given the practical and political relevance of this study. However, if there is any doubt over the reliability of an estimate, this will be noted.

In principle, quantitative data may stem from three sources, namely:

  • official statistics and representative survey studies;
  • administrative data, such as membership figures provided by the respective organisations, which are then used for calculating the density rate on the basis of available statistical figures on the potential membership of the organisation;
  • personal estimates made by representatives of the respective organisations.

While the data sources of the economic figures cited in the report are generally statistics, the figures in respect of the organisations are usually either administrative data or estimates. Furthermore, it should be noted that several country studies also present data on trade unions and business associations that do not meet the above definition of a sector-related social partner organisation, in order to give a complete picture of the sector’s associational ‘landscape’. For the above substantive reasons, as well as for methodological reasons of cross-national comparability, such trade unions and business associations will not be considered in this report.

Structure of report

The study consists of three main parts, beginning with a brief summary of the sector’s economic background. The report then analyses the relevant social partner organisations in all EU Member States, with the exception of Hungary and Slovakia where the sea and coastal water transport sector is virtually non-existent. The study therefore covers 25 European countries in total. The third part of the analysis considers the representative associations at European level. Each section will contain a brief introduction explaining the concept of representativeness in greater detail, followed by the study findings. As representativeness is a complex issue, it requires separate consideration at national and European level for two reasons. Firstly, the method applied by national regulations and practices to capture representativeness has to be taken into account. Secondly, the national and European organisations differ in their tasks and scope of activities. The concept of representativeness must therefore be suited to this difference.

Finally, it is important to note the difference between the research and political aspects of this study. While providing data on the representativeness of the organisations under consideration, the report does not reach any definite conclusion on whether the representativeness of the European social partner organisations and their national affiliates is sufficient for admission to the European social dialogue. The reason for this is that defining the criteria for adequate representativeness is a matter for political decision rather than an issue of research analysis.


Economic background

During the past two to three decades, EU regulation has further opened up national markets of the sea transport sector to competition; more specifically, this is as a result of Council Regulation 4055/86/EEC concerning the freedom to provide services to the maritime transport between Member States and between Member States and third countries and Council Regulation 3577/92/EEC applying the principle of freedom to provide services to maritime transport within Member States. The unique features of mobile means of production – in this case ships – and open registries have rendered shipping one of the most globalised industries in the world. In a global context, the continuously increasing division of labour internationally tends to further fuel maritime trade worldwide, in particular with respect to container shipping. By international standards, Europe plays a dominant role in the industry. While only a minority of ships worldwide fly the flag of an EU Member State, more than 40% of the world’s fleet is controlled by EU shipping companies. At the same time, about 90% of external trade and over 41% of internal trade in the EU are conducted by sea.

However, the industry is facing serious challenges due to a number of factors, namely: the high level of globalisation in the shipping industry; the use of ‘flags of convenience’ – a practice whereby shipowners ‘flag out’ to countries which are more attractive than European countries in terms of taxation, social legislation, along with safety and environmental standards; and the establishment of ‘second’ or ‘international registers’ in Europe, which are functional equivalents to ‘flags of convenience’. According to trade unions, such practices have had considerable ‘dumping’ effects in terms of labour and social standards in EU shipping. Over the past 20 years, the number of EU seafarers in EU shipping has declined by more than 40%, while employment among non-EU or non-European Economic Area (EEA) seafarers has increased by 19%. This is because the latter are paid wages up to 60% below that of EU nationals. Such a trend affects EU ratings in particular, along with officers to a lesser extent. Therefore, after a period of liberalisation of the sea transport sector since the 1970s, the EU has been seeking for several years to regulate the sector in terms of working conditions and job security. As a consequence, three directives were passed during the period 1999–2001: one concerns the European agreement on the organisation of working time of seafarers (Directive 1999/63/EC); the second relates to the enforcement of provisions in respect of seafarers’ hours of work on board ships calling at Community ports (Directive 1999/95/EC); and the third concerns the minimum level of training of seafarers (Directive 2001/25/EC). However, the two sides of industry are at odds as to the effectiveness of these directives in terms of employees’ working conditions.

Apart from regulation at EU level, a comprehensive international regulatory regime has been put in place through the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). Due to its global nature, shipping is unique in having such a structure. In February 2006, the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) was adopted by the two representative ‘social partner’ organisations of the ILO Joint Maritime Commission (JMC) – namely, the International Shipping Federation (ISF) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). The MLC brings together and updates over 60 international labour standards adopted by the ILO since 1920; in particular, it covers the issues of employment and working conditions on ships. The JMC also has responsibility for agreeing to changes to the ILO Minimum Wage for Able Seamen, which stood at US 515 (about €324 as at 21 April 2008) a month in 2007 (see the Annual Review 2007 (2.87Mb PDF) of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and ISF). However, this international wage minimum set by a United Nations (UN) body is only a recommendation and contains caveats for the shipping industry of developing countries. Whereas ISF and ECSA consider these regulations as sufficient and most favourable in particular for seafarers from developing countries, ETF and the national trade unions deem the existing regulatory framework as largely ineffective. Organised labour argues that overall standards in terms of pay and working conditions for seafarers have remained poor, in particular for employees from outside of the EU – even though they are, as ECSA contends, frequently paid much higher wages and enjoy more favourable working conditions compared with those engaged in shore-based work in their countries of residence.

The findings in Tables 1 and 2 give an overview of the socioeconomic development of the sea transport sector from the early 1990s to the mid 2000s, presenting a number of indicators which are significant to industrial relations and social dialogue. In most of the Member States for which related data are available, the number of companies has largely increased, reflecting the liberalisation and partial expansion of the sector (Table 1). However, no clear trend emerges in relation to available data on total employment and the number of employees. While twice as many countries report an increase in employment in the sector compared with the number of countries recording a decrease in employment, no comparable figures are available for half of the countries under consideration. Anecdotal evidence indicates that in a few of the countries which do not record reliable figures for the 1990s, such as Ireland and Poland, the volume of employment has decreased significantly during the last decade. In most countries for which data are available, the number of employees (Table 2) is close to the total number in employment (Table 1). However, this does not necessarily indicate that the sector is characterised by relatively large companies or standard employment. Rather, this finding suggests that in most countries, only the level of ‘standard’ employment is recorded, while various categories of atypical workers – including outsourced crews of national vessels, seafarers on board ‘flag of convenience’ ships and foreign nationals in general – are often not covered by official statistics. Nevertheless, the findings in Tables 1 and 2 show that the sector as a whole is relatively small. Its share of both aggregate employment and the total number of employees is below 1% in all countries, except for Cyprus, and below 0.1% in one third of the countries (Table 2). However, for the reasons just mentioned, the employment figures shown here are presumably underestimated and tend to over-represent standard employment relative to the various forms of atypical work.

Table 1: Total employment in sea transport sector, 1994 and 2005
  Number of companies Total employment Male employment Female employment
1994 2005 1994 2005 1994 2005 1994 2005
AT n.a. </= 8 n.a. <400a n.a. < 400a n.a. 0
BE n.a. 24 n.a. 2,161 n.a. 1,988 n.a. 173
BG 1 15 n.a. 4,500r n.a. 4,100r n.a. 400r
CY* 49b 57 2,932c 4,725 n.a. 3,466 n.a. 1,259
CZ 2 2 1,046 900 1,031 900 15 0
DE n.a. 1,935d,e n.a. ~23,000 n.a. ~17,000 n.a. ~6,000
DK 836f 370d,f 7,172 10,768g,h n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
EE 26 20 n.a. 4,500 n.a. 3,100 n.a. 1.400
EL n.a. 369f n.a. 23,510h,m n.a. 22,869h,m n.a. 641h
ES 367i 430 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
FI 175 235 8,290 7,958 4,833 4,925 3,457 3,033
FR >30j ~70 10,600j 18,230k n.a. 9,300l n.a. 450l
IE n.a. 101h n.a. 3,368h n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
IT 272n 397o 16,053n 17,444o 12,358n 13,429o 3,695n 4,015o
LT n.a. 22h,p n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
LU n.a. 280 n.a. 1,100 n.a. 1,100 n.a. 0.0
LV 17j 27h 3,431j 658h 2,915j 564h 516j 94h
MT n.a. n.a. n.a. 679 n.a. 583 n.a. 96
NL 470 505 10,500m 13,469n,q n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
PL 7 31 n.a. 4,500a n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
PT n.a. 19r 5,100n 3,073o 4,537n 2,608o 563n 465o
RO** 109i 182 14,931i 25,553 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
SE 418 651h 4,030m 15,775h n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
SI 1c 19 204c,g 226g 130c,g 134g 74c,g 92g
UK n.a. 1,235 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.

Notes: n.a. = not available; * = figures for employment probably underestimated; ** = all data relate to NACE 61.

a= without foreign workers; b = 1999; c = 1995; d = 2004; e = figure obviously includes many self-employed people without employees; f = mode of count changed from 1994 to 2005; g = without foreign workers; h = 2006; i = 1996; j = 1997; k = including 2,480 foreign employees; l = without foreign employees and sedentary staff; m = figure probably underestimated; n = 1991; o = 2001; p = NACE 61; q = 2003; r = 2007.

Source: EIRO national centres, 2007

Table 2: Total employees in sea transport sector, 1994 and 2005
  Total employees Male employees Female employees Total sectoral employees as % of total employees in economy Total sectoral employment as % of total employment in economy
1994 2005 1994 2005 1994 2005 1994 2005 1994 2005
AT n.a. <400a n.a. <400a n.a. 0 n.a. 0.01 n.a. 0.01
BE n.a. 2,161 n.a. 1,988 n.a. 173 n.a. 0.06 n.a. 0.04
BG n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.20j n.a. 0.14j
CY* n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 1.0 1.3
CZ 1,046 760 1,031 760 15 0 0.03 0.02 0.03 0.02
DE n.a. 21,392 n.a. 17,021 n.a. 4,371 n.a. 0.08 n.a. n.a.
DK n.a. 10,685c,d n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.4c,d 0.3 0.4c,d
EE n.a. 4,500 n.a. 3,100 n.a. 1,400 n.a. 0.7 n.a. 0.7
EL n.a. 22,834d,g n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.5d
ES 14,900 18,600 13,700 14,300 1,300 4,300 0.12 0.10 n.a. n.a.
FI 8,268 7,928 4,811 4,895 3,457 3,033 0.51 0.39 0.43 0.34
FR n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.022
IE n.a. 3,368d n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.19d n.a. 0.17d
IT 15,508h 16,825i 11,904h 12,915i 3,604h 3,910i 0.093h 0.097i 0.070h 0.074i
LT n.a. >2,500 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. >0.2 n.a. n.a.
LU n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 0 n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.35
LV 3,431f 655d 2,915f 561d 516f 94d 0.46f 0.07d 0.46f 0.07d
MT n.a. 569 n.a. 479 n.a. 90 n.a. 0.6 n.a. 0.6
NL n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.16m 0.21m
PL n.a. 4,500a n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.04 n.a. 0.04
PT 4,790h 2,938i 4,267h 2,493i 523h 445i 0.15h 0.08i 0.12h 0.07i
RO** 14,931e 25,553 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.25e 0.54 0.16e 0.30
SE 3,744m 15,325d n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.40d n.a. 0.35de
SI 183b,c 192c 110b,c 104c 73b,c 88c 0.024b,c 0.024c 0.027b,c 0.028c
UK n.a. 45,600 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.147 n.a. n.a.

Notes: n.a. = not available; * = figures for employment probably underestimated; ** = all data refer to NACE 61.

a = without foreign workers; b = 1995; c = without foreign workers; d = 2006; e= 1996; f = 1997; g = figure probably underestimated; h = 1991; i = 2001; j = 2007.

Source: EIRO national centres, 2007

Compared with the findings for total EU employment in the sector shown in Table 1, other estimates of the European Commission indicate that more than 1.5 million people are employed in the EU’s sea transport sector. This large discrepancy can be attributed to two possible reasons. Firstly, the Commission uses a broader definition of the sector, by including ‘other supporting transport activities’ in accordance with the NACE 63.2 classification, while this study is confined to the ‘sea and coastal water transport’ sector or NACE 61.1. Secondly, the employment figures provided by some of the national reports do not include certain categories of foreign workers as mentioned, although these workers might make up the majority of those on board the respective countries’ fleets. For instance, it is often unclear whether the employment figures provided by the country reports include seafarers on board ‘flags of convenience’ ships – that is, ships owned by a shipping company licensed in the respective country but flying the flag of a third country. Therefore, the results provided in Tables 1 and 2 should be interpreted with caution.


National level of interest representation

In many Member States, statutory regulations refer explicitly to the concept of representativeness when assigning certain rights of interest representation and public governance to trade unions and/or employer organisations. The most important rights addressed by such regulations include: formal recognition as a party to collective bargaining; extension of the scope of a multi-employer collective agreement to employers not affiliated to the signatory employer organisation; and participation in public policy and tripartite bodies of social dialogue. Under these circumstances, representativeness is normally measured by the membership strength of the organisations. For instance, statutory extension provisions usually allow for extension of collective agreements to unaffiliated employers only when the signatory trade union and employer association represent 50% or more of the employees within the agreement’s domain.

As outlined, the representativeness of the national social partner organisations is of interest to this study in terms of the capacity of their European umbrella organisations for participation in European social dialogue. Hence, the role of the national actors in collective bargaining and public policymaking constitutes another important component of representativeness. The effectiveness of European social dialogue tends to increase with the growing ability of the national affiliates of the European organisations to regulate the employment terms and influence national public policies affecting the sector.

A cross-national comparative analysis shows a generally positive correlation between the bargaining role of the social partners and their involvement in public policy (see Traxler, F., ‘The metamorphoses of corporatism’, in European Journal of Political Research, Vol. 43, No. 4, 2004, pp. 571–598). Social partner organisations that are engaged in multi-employer bargaining are incorporated in state policies to a significantly greater extent than their counterparts in countries where multi-employer bargaining is lacking. This can be attributed to the fact that only multi-employer agreements matter in macroeconomic terms, setting an incentive for governments to persistently seek the cooperation of the social partner organisations. If single-employer bargaining prevails in a country, none of the collective agreements will have a noticeable effect on the economy due to their limited scope. As a result, the basis for generalised tripartite policy concertation will be absent.

In summary, representativeness is a multi-dimensional concept that embraces three basic elements: the membership domain and strength of the social partner organisations; their role in collective bargaining; and their role in public policymaking.

Membership domains and strength

The membership domain of an organisation, as formally established by its constitution or name, distinguishes its potential members from other groups which the organisation does not claim to represent. As already explained, this study considers only organisations whose domain relates to the sea and coastal water transport sector. However, there is insufficient room in this report to delineate the domain demarcations of all of the organisations. Instead, the report notes how they relate to the sector by classifying them according to the four patterns of ‘sector-relatedness’, as specified earlier. Regarding membership strength, a differentiation exists between strength in terms of the absolute number of members and strength in relative terms. Research usually refers to relative membership strength as the density – in other words, the ratio of actual to potential members.

Furthermore, a difference also arises between trade unions and employer organisation in relation to measuring membership strength. Trade union membership simply means the number of unionised persons. In addition to taking the total membership of a trade union as an indicator of its strength, it is also reasonable to break down this membership total according to sex. However, measuring the membership strength of employer organisations is more complex since they organise collective entities, namely companies that employ employees. In this case, therefore, two possible measures of membership strength may be used – one referring to the companies themselves, and the other to the employees working in the member companies of an employer organisation.

For a sectoral study such as this, measures of the membership strength of both the trade unions and employer organisations also have to consider how the membership domains relate to the sector. If a domain is not congruent with the sector demarcation, the organisation’s total density, that is the density referring to its overall domain, may differ from sector-specific density, or the density relating to the particular sector. This report will first present the data on the domains and membership strength of the trade unions and will then consider those of the employer organisations.

Trade unions

Table 3 presents the trade union data on their domains and membership strength. The table lists all trade unions which meet at least one of the two criteria for classification as a sector-related social partner organisation, as defined earlier. In the 25 countries under consideration, 10 out of 86 unions (11.6%) have demarcated their domain in a way which is congruent with the sectoral definition. This underlines the fact that statistical definitions of business activities differ somewhat from the lines along which employees identify common interests and come together in trade unions. Domain demarcations resulting in overlap in relation to the sector are most frequent, standing at 45.3%. Overlap largely arises due to two different modes of demarcation. The first mode concerns general, cross-sectoral domains – as seen, for example, in the case of the National Trade Union Association of Communications ‘Promania’ (NTUC ‘Promania’), the Confederation of Labour ‘Podkrepa’ (Страница на КТ Подкрепа, CL Podkrepa) and the Independent Trade Union ‘Edinstvo’ in Bulgaria, or the General Workers’ Confederation (Unión General de Trabajadores, UGT), the Trade Union Confederation of Workers’ Commissions (Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras, CC.OO) and the General Confederation of Labour (Confederación General del Trabajo, CGT) in Spain, along with the General Workers’ Union (GWU) in Malta. The second mode relates to various forms of multi-sectoral domains, covering contiguous sectors, mostly in the broader water transport segment of the economy – as observed, for instance, in the case of the Estonian Seamen’s Independent Union (Eesti Meremeeste Sõltumatu Ametiühing, EMSA), the General Federation of Transport and Civil Engineering (Fédération générale des transports et de l’équipement, FGTE-CFDT) in France, and the Italian Federation of Transport Workers (Federazione italiana lavoratori trasporti, Filt-Cgil), the Italian Federation of Transport (Federazione italiana trasporti, Fit-Cisl) and the Union of Italian Transport Workers (Unione italiana dei lavoratori dei trasporti, Uilt-Uiltrasporti). Sectional overlap can be found less frequently (20.9%) in the sector and usually emanates from domain demarcations which focus on certain categories of employees who are then organised across several or all sectors.

Employee categories are specified by various parameters such as: by distinct occupation – for example, technicians and mechanics as in the case of the Danish Metalworkers’ Union (Dansk Metal) or maritime officers in the case of the organisation the Danish Maritime Officers (SL-DN) and the Finnish Ship Officers’ Association (Suomen Laivanpäällystöliitto, SLPL); or by employment status – for instance, blue-collar workers as in the case of the United Federation of Danish Workers (Fagligt Fælles Forbund, 3F), or white-collar employees as in the case of the Swedish Association for Service and Communication (Facket för Service och Kommunikation, SEKO) and the Union of Commercial and Clerical Employees in Denmark (Handels-og Kontorfunktionærernes Forbund i Danmark, HK). In relation to the trade union Transport, Service and Networks (Transnet Gewerkschaft GdED, Transnet) and the Transport Trade Union (Verkehrsgewerkschaft GDBA) in Germany, sectional overlap results from the trade union’s competence for only one establishment in the sector. Finally, sectionalism representing 22.1% of the cases arises from the existence of various distinct sector-specific trade unions in several countries, which only represent and organise certain categories of employees in the sector, excluding employees outside of the maritime sector. Such employee categories are generally specified by distinct occupations – such as maritime officers in the case of the Federation of Officers of the Merchant Navy – General Confederation of Labour (Fédération des officiers de la Marine marchande – Confédération générale du travail, FOMM-CGT) and the French Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff – General Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff (Confédération française de l’encadrement – Confédération générale des cadres, CFE-CGC) in France, or officers and machine engineers in the case of the Union of Officers and Machine Engineers of the Merchant Marine (Sindicato dos Oficiais e Engenheiros Maquinistas da Marinha Mercante, SOEMMM) in Portugal. In general, sectionalism occurs only in countries with a long tradition of maritime trade, such as Bulgaria, France, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden; with the exception of Slovenia, a sufficient number of at least a few thousand maritime employees in these countries may legitimatise a separate trade union representation of different occupational groups with distinct interests.

As the trade unions’ domains often overlap with the demarcation of the sector, they may also overlap with one another in most countries. Table 3 also provides an insight into these inter-union domain overlaps, which may be considered as endemic. In the majority of countries, the domain of any of their sector-related unions overlaps with the domain of all or most of the other trade unions. Depending on the scale of mutual overlap, this results in competition for members between the trade unions. High degrees of inter-union competition are, for instance, recorded in both Portugal and Romania.

Table 3: Interest representation of trade unions, 2005–2006
Country Type of member-ship Domain cover-age Membership Density Collec-tive bargain-ing Consul-tation National and European affiliations*
Members Members in sector Female member-ship Dom-ain Sector
AT                    
vida oblig. O 166,000 <400a 29% n.a. 100% yes no ÖGB, ETF, EFFAT, UNI-Europa
BE                    
BTB vol. O 38,130 2,684 18% 65% 65% yes yes ABVV/ FGTB, ETF
ACV/CSC-Transcom vol. O 82,000 645 15% 35% 35% yes yes ACV/CSC, ETF
BG                    
Seamen’s Syndicate vol. S 1,305 1,305 n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes CITUB, ETF
Seafarers’ Trade Union vol. S 1,000 1,000 n.a. n.a. n.a. yes no ETF
National Trade Union ‘Promania’ vol. O n.a. <80 n.a. n.a. n.a. yes no  
CL ‘Podkrepa’ vol. O n.a. <80 n.a. n.a. n.a. yes no  
Independent Trade Union ‘Edinstvo’ vol. O n.a. <80 n.a. n.a. n.a. yes no  
CY                    
OMEPEGE vol. O 6,500 1,500 30% n.a. n.a. yes yes SEK, ETF
SEGDA- MELIN vol. O 5,461 1,700 22.9% n.a. n.a. yes yes PEO
CZ                    
OSN vol. C 380 380 0.26% 50% 50% yes yes CMKOS, ETF
DE                    
ver.di vol. O 2,274,731 7,250 11.5% 38% 33.17% yes yes DGB, ETF
Transnet vol. SO 248,903 n.a. 20% n.a. n.a. yes no DGB, ETF
GDBA vol. SO 45,000 n.a. 10%–12% n.a. n.a. yes no DGB, ETF
DK                    
3F vol. SO 350,444 1,778 32% 75% 80% yes no CO-Industri, LO, EFBWW, EFFAT, ETF, UNI-Europa, EPSU
Dansk Metal vol. SO 138,948 500 5% 80% 20% yes no CO-Industri, LO, ETF, EMF, EPSU
MMF vol. SO 8,817 ~2,650 1% 85% 85% yes no Féderation des cadres de l’energie et de la recherche
SL-DN vol. SO 2,700b 2,400b 4% 90% 90% yes no FTF c, ETF, NTF, EMPA
HK vol. SO 345,968 1,500 73% 45% 70% yes no LO, ETF, NTF, UNI-Europa
DEF vol. SO 29,874 112 0.9% 75% 65% yes no LO, EMCEF, EMF, EFBWW, UNI-Europa
EE                    
EMSA vol. O 1,800 1,380 58% 18%d 30.7%e yes yes EAKL, TAF, ETF
MA vol. C 497f 497f 45% 11%e, f 11%e, f yes yes EAKL, TAF, ETF
EFWTWU n.a. C n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. EAKL, ETF
EL                    
PNO vol. C 25,000 25,000 n.a. 85% 85% yes yes GSEE, ETF
ES                    
UGT vol. O 60,000 4,000 n.a. n.a. 20% yes yes ETF
CC.OO vol. O 250,000 4,000 n.a. n.a. 20% yes yes ETF
CIG vol. SO 7,649 29 68% n.a. n.a. yes yes  
CGT vol. O n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes no  
ELA/STV vol. SO n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes no ETF
LAB vol. SO 2,690g 360 10% n.a. n.a. yes n.a.  
FI                    
S-MU vol. O 10,707 7,600 45% 90% 99% yes yes SAK, NTF, ETF
SLPL vol. SO 2,700 2,000 5% 90% 95% yes yes STTK, ETF, NFBK, NTF
SKL vol. SO 4,600 1,300 2% 85% 99% yes yes STTK, ETF
FR                    
FGTE-CFDT vol. O n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes CFDT, ETF
FOMM-CGT vol. S n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes CGT, ETF
FNSM-CGT vol. C n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes CGT, ETF
SNCNMM- CFE-CGC vol. S n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes CFE-CGC
SNCPSCN- CFE-CGC vol. S n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes CFE-CGC
SNPOMM- CFE-CGC vol. S n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes CFE-CGC
FECCNL- CGT-FO vol. S n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes CGT-FO, ETF
FETS-FO vol. S n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes CGT-FO, ETF
SNPNSMM- CFTC vol. C n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes CFTC, ETF
IE                    
SIPTU vol. O >200,000 1,640h n.a. n.a. 43%h yes yes ICTU, ETF
SUI vol. C < 00 <400 n.a. n.a. <14% yes yes  
IT                    
FILT vol. O 143,696 n.a. 12%–13% 13.6% 30% yes yes CGIL, ETF
FIT vol. O 107,082 n.a. 15% 10.1% 42.8% yes yes CISL, ETF
UILT-Uiltra-sporti vol. O 100,000 n.a. 20% 8.3% 35% yes yes UIL, ETF
LT                    
LVTDPSF vol. O 750 670 17% 25%–30% 35% n.a. yes LPSK
LJS vol. O 1,560 1,500 4% n.a. 60%–65% no yes ETF
LU                    
OGB-L vol. O 59,700 7 33% n.a. 0.6% yes yes CGTL, ETF
FNCTT-FEL vol. O 6,500 56 5% n.a. 5.1% yes yes CGTL, ETF
LCGB vol. O n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes  
FCPT-Syprolux vol. O n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes  
LV                    
LTFJA vol. O 8,249 n.a. 3.3% n.a. n.a. yes yes LBAS, ETF
UTAF vol. SO 1,878 n.a. 34% 61% n.a. yes yes LBAS, ETF
LNJA vol. O 3,742 n.a. 0.8% 90% 90% yes yes  
MT                    
GWU vol. O 46,156i n.a. 18% 47% n.a. yes yes ETF, EFFAT, EMCEF, EMF, EPSU, ETUF– TCL, EURO WEA, FERPA
UHM vol. O 26,129i n.a. 31% 26% n.a. yes yes CMTU, FERPA, EUROFEDOP
NL                    
Nautilus vol. O 6,000 5,000 1%–2% n.a. ~80%k yes yes FNV, ETF
CNV Bedrijven-bond vol. O n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. CNV, ETF
PL                    
NSZZ Solidarność vol. O n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes ETF
FZZMR-OPZZ vol. O n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes ETF
OZZOiM vol. C 5,212 5,212 0.01% n.a. n.a. yes yes ETF
ZZKiO vol. S n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes n.a. ETF
PT                    
SOEMMM vol. S 1,300 1,300 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. UGT, ETF
OFICI-AISMAR vol. S 260 260 2% 8.8% 8.8% no n.a. FSM, ETF
SIMA-MEVIP vol. SO n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes FSM, CGTP
SEMM n.a. S 700 700 0% n.a. n.a. yes yes FESMAR UGT, ETF
SITEMAQ n.a. O 2,500 2,000 n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes FESMAR UGT, ETF
SMMCMM n.a. S n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes FESMAR UGT, ETF
SINCO-MAR n.a. S n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes FESMAR UGT, ETF
RO                    
SLN vol. C 6,125 6,125 n.a. 24% 24% yes yes CSNTR, ETF
FSNN oblig. O 15,000 n.a. n.a. n.a. 100% yes yes ASTR, CSN Meridian
SE                    
SFBF vol. S 4,300 4,300 4% ~50% ~50% yes yes SACO, ETF, NFBK, NTF
SBF vol. S 2,300 2,300 5% 47% ~50% yes yes LEDARNA, Nautilus Federation UK and NL
SEKO vol. SO 150,000 7,027 30% >90% n.a. yes yes LO, ETF, EPSU, UNI-Europa
HTF vol. SO 160,000 1,400 63% n.a. n.a. yes yes LO, TCO, ETF
CF vol. SO 120,000 50 29% 70% n.a. yes yes NordIng, UNI-Europa, EMCEF
SI                    
SDPZ vol. O 12,000 25 n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes ZSSS
KNSS vol. O 10,000 20 n.a. n.a. n.a. yes no  
SDPS vol. S 12 12 n.a. n.a. n.a. yes no KS90
SPS oblig. S 460j 460j n.a. >90% >90% yes yes ALTERNA-TIVA, ETF
ZPUS vol. S 45 45 n.a. >90% >90% yes no KS90
UK                    
Nautilus UK vol. C 19,258 19,258 n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes TUC, ETF
RMT vol. O 75,000 6,000 10.7% n.a. n.a. yes yes TUC, ETF
T&G vol. O 835,351 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. yes yes TUC, ETF

Notes: See Annex for list of abbreviations and full names of organisations.

vol. = voluntary; oblig. = obligatory; O = Overlap; SO = Sectional overlap; S = Sectionalism; C = Congruence

n.a. = not available

* = for the national level, only cross-sectoral, that is peak-level, organisations are listed; for the European level, only sector-related organisations are listed.

= Domain overlap; = Indirect consultation via higher-order unit; = Indirect collective bargaining involvement via higher-order unit.

a= almost exclusively foreign seafarers; b = active members; c = until January 2007; d = figure probably underestimated; e = figure probably inflated; f = including retirees; g = in transport sector only; h = 2000; i = 2007; j = including around 340 foreign nationals; k = with regard to Dutch employees only.

Source: EIRO national centres, 2007

Looking at the trade union membership data, it becomes apparent that female employees comprise the minority group in most of the unions for which membership figures by sex are available (Table 3). Nevertheless, in a few trade unions, the proportion of female members is above 50%. At a first glance, this finding is quite remarkable, since the sector’s employment is generally composed almost exclusively of male employees. However, closer consideration shows that the domain of all trade unions recording a majority of female members overlaps or sectionally overlaps in relation to the sector. Hence, the predominance of female members is likely to originate in areas of the trade unions’ domains other than the sea and coastal water transport sector. One exception is Estonia’s EMSA, whose female predominance in terms of members is due to the country’s fleet structure, which consists mainly of passenger cruise ships largely run by female attendant staff. Apart from the case of Estonia, the fact that employment in European shipping is an almost exclusive domain of men is mirrored by the extremely low female membership rates in those unions whose domain is congruent or sectional in relation to the sector.

Membership of the trade unions is usually voluntary. However, in at least three of the 25 Member States under consideration, one or more of the sector-related trade unions – or part of them – records compulsory membership, based on some kind of ‘closed-shop’ arrangements. These arrangements stipulate that all employees of either the whole sector –as in the case of vida in Austria – or of certain companies in the sector – as in the case of the National Union Federation ‘the Navigator’ (FSNN) in Romania, the Seamen’s Trade Union of Slovenia (Sindikat Pomorščakov Slovenije, SPS) and, allegedly, four small trade unions affiliated to the Federation of Sea Workers’ Unions (Federação dos Sindicatos do Mar, FESMAR) in Portugal – must be unionised. Usually, these closed-shop arrangements mean that the respective employer commits themselves to registering all seafarers with the relevant trade union and to paying a certain amount of membership fees on their behalf. In the maritime transport sector, such arrangements may be of utmost importance for securing the respective trade union’s representativeness, since common, workplace-related forms of recruitment are often not feasible due to the mostly foreign workers’ dispersion on board the ships throughout the world. As regards Austria, this closed-shop arrangement, which is laid down in the sectoral collective agreement, is absolutely unique and breaks with the principle of voluntary membership of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB) and its affiliates, as laid down in its constitution.

The absolute numbers of trade union members differ widely, ranging from more than two million to fewer than 50 members. This considerable variation reflects differences in the size of the economy and the comprehensiveness of the membership domain rather than the unions’ ability to attract members. Therefore, density is a more appropriate measure of membership strength for a comparative analysis. In the case of 56.3% of the unions which document figures on density, domain density is 50% or higher. Almost half of the unions (43.8%) represent 70% or more of the employees covered by their domain. Only 15.6% of the unions for which data are available organise fewer than 15% of the employees within their domain. The remaining unions (28.1%) record a density of between 15% and 49% of their potential members. Overall, therefore, domain density is quite high.

The same holds true for the trade unions’ density in the sea and coastal water transport sector, which largely corresponds to the density ratio for their overall domain. Sectoral density is 50% or higher in the case of 54.1% of the trade unions for which data are available, while it is lower than 15% for only 13.5% of the unions; some 32.4% of the trade unions represent between 15% and 49% of the sector’s employees. Regarding those trade unions for which figures on both measures are recorded, sectoral density tends to be slightly higher compared with total density. In most of these cases, sectoral density is either equal to or generally above the overall density, although the reverse relationship between the two densities is also apparent among a few of the trade unions.

Despite relatively high unionisation rates in the sea and coastal water transport sector, one should not nevertheless infer from these findings that the trade unions are very powerful in the sector. Rather, the trade unions seem to have been forced into taking a defensive position for a variety of reasons. The widespread business practice of abandoning traditional flags for ‘flags of convenience’ or newly established ‘second’ or ‘international registers’ means that the seafarers concerned are often prevented from exercising their collective and individual rights – a problem which is compounded by the fact that it is often unclear which regulations do actually apply to them. Moreover, even those EU shipowners that operate ships flying the flag of an EU Member State often employ crews without any EU seafarer. This manning practice enables the shipping companies to avoid compliance with both national and international legislation, since it proves difficult for the trade unions to even communicate with the frequently changing and often poorly skilled crews on board the ships. Nevertheless, relatively high unionisation rates in the sector, combined with a high level of inter-union policy coordination under the umbrella of ITF, have helped to establish some degree of a regulatory framework in the maritime sector. For instance, ITF has developed minimum standards regarding pay and working conditions applying to all seafarers on open registry ships worldwide, laid down in a model collective agreement. By threatening industrial action, often with the support of dockers who are also organised by ITF and its national affiliates, substandard shipping operators are only offered this standard agreement for signing. Operators that accept the agreement are awarded an ITF ‘blue certificate’ indicating that the pay and working conditions of the employees on board the respective ships have been approved by ITF inspectors. According to information on the ITF website, about one quarter of all ‘flags of convenience’ vessels worldwide are covered by ITF agreements to date. The shipping industry shows that a comprehensive trade union domain – as is the case with ITF which organises the entire transport sector – combined with high density rates does not only facilitate interprofessional solidarity, for instance between dockers and seafarers; such a configuration is also likely to translate into some degree of organisational strength, even under quite unfavourable circumstances. Thus, inter-union policy coordination under the umbrella of the ITF compensates somewhat for the poor ability of the national trade unions to efficiently regulate employment terms in the sector.

Employer organisations

The results in Tables 4 and 5 show the membership data for employer organisations in the sea and coastal water transport sector. For 24 out of the 25 countries under consideration, sector-related employer organisations are documented. Strikingly, in at least 10 of these countries, a proportion of the listed employer organisations are not a party to collective bargaining. These are classified here as social partner organisations only due to their European-level affiliation to ECSA. At least 15 of the 25 countries have employer organisations engaged in collective bargaining. In one country – namely, the Czech Republic – no association exists which meets the definition of a social partner organisation, as outlined earlier. However, this does not mean that business has remained unorganised. Generally, business interest organisations may also deal with interests other than those related to industrial relations. Organisations specialised in matters other than industrial relations are commonly defined as ‘trade associations’ (see TN0311101S). Such sector-related trade associations also exist in the sea and coastal water transport sector. In terms of their national scope of activities, all of the associations which are not involved in collective bargaining according to Table 5 either primarily or exclusively act as trade associations in their country. It is only the conceptual decision to include all associational affiliates of ECSA, regardless of whether they have a role in national bargaining, which gives them the status of a social partner organisation within the framework of this study. Of the 38 employer organisations listed in Table 5, at least 10 organisations belong to this group.

In 15 of the 24 countries where employer organisations exist, only one single employer organisation has been established. Pluralist associational systems are therefore far less frequent on the employer side than the trade union side. Regardless of this, the employer organisations’ domains tend to be narrower than those of the trade unions. Only 15.8% and 5.3% of these associations rest on overlapping and sectionally overlapping domains, respectively. The domain of one of the Irish employer organisations – namely, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) – is cross-sectoral. Most of the domain overlaps arise from coverage of the broader water transport sector, often including port services and/or inland water transport. Overlaps of this kind can be found in Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Romania and Sweden. Sectionalism, or sectionalist overlaps in the case of broader domain demarcation in terms of sector, are mainly caused by domain demarcations which focus on certain categories of employers. Such categories are specified according to various parameters including: company size, as is the case of the Finnish Shipowners’ Association (Suomen Varustamoyhdistys, SVY); type and/or size of the ships, for example ferry liners, cargo vessels, bulk carriers, which a company is operating – as seen, for instance, in relation to the Cargoship Association (Rahtialusyhdistys) in Finland and the Union of Domestic Ferries of Greece; and geographical region of shipping, for example as in the case of the Italian Association of Shipping Lines (Fedarlinea). Some 26.3% of the organisations are sectionalist in terms of their domain. More than half (52.6%) of the cases have a domain congruent with the sectoral definition. Two employer organisations can rely on obligatory membership; in the case of the Administrative Data of the Austrian Shipowners’ Association (FSÖ), this is due to its public-law status as a chamber, whereas the Employers’ Association in Maritime Transport and Port Exploitations (APTNEP) in Romania is a private-law organisation.

With regard to the Austrian chamber organisation, the sectoral and overall density of both companies and employees is 100% by law. With the exception of a proportion of the organisations in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and Romania, density also tends to be rather high, at over 60%, in terms of both companies and employees affiliated to most voluntary associations. Of the organisations for which related data are available, 53.3% cover at least 60% of the employees relative to their domain, while 62.5% do so relative to the sector. The comparable figures for density in terms of companies are 61.9% and 60.0%, respectively. In most of these cases, density is 80% or higher. At the lower end of the scale, only two organisations exist whose domain density and sectoral density, each in terms of companies, is below 10% – namely, the Luxembourg Association of Shipping Interests (Association Luxembourgeoise des intérets maritimes, ALIM) and the Malta International Shipping Council (MISC). Fedarlinea in Italy and ALIM in Luxembourg show a comparatively low record in terms of employees. Sectoral density in terms of employees is, with the exception of the Estonian Shipowners’ Association (ELL), equally high as the domain density. This finding corresponds with the fact that the domain of the employer organisations is generally well tailored to the sector. Most of the domains of the relatively few organisations which overlap with the sector do so only with respect to branches which are also related to the broader water transport industry. The fact that the sectoral and total densities in terms of companies, on the one hand, and employees, on the other, do not differ widely – with the notable exception of the Danish Shipowners’ Association (Danmarks Rederiforening, DR) in Denmark and the Aland Shipowners’ Association (Ålands Redarförening, AR) in Finland – does not indicate any correlation between company size and the propensity of the companies to associate.

Table 4: Domain coverage, membership and density of employer organisations, 2005–2006
Country Domain cover-age Membership Density
Type Comp-anies Comp-anies in sector Employ-ees Employ-ees in sector Companies Employees
Domain Sector Domain Sector
AT                    
FSÖ O oblig. 30 8 n.a. 100 100% 100% 100% 100%
BE                    
KBRV C vol. 23 23 n.a. n.a. 92% 92% 90%–95% 90%–95%
BG                    
BSA O vol. 13 9 5,000 4,500 87% 60% n.a. 97%
CY                    
CUS C vol. 39 39 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
CYSEA C vol. 57 57 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
CZ – no organisation
DE                    
VDR C vol. 212 212 n.a. n.a. ~95% ~95% n.a. n.a.
DK                    
DRa SO vol. 22b n.a. 14,000c 12,900d ~20% ~20% 85% 85%
BR S vol. 9 9 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
RMS S vol. 41 41 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
EE                    
ELL O vol. 15 11 6,000–7,000 ~4,000 15.8% 55% 48% 60%–70%
EL                    
EEA S vol. 29 29 n.a. n.a. 95% 95% n.a. n.a.
EEE C vol. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
Union of Domestic Ferries S vol. 29 29 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
ES                    
ANAVE C vol. 52 52 9,400 9,400 98% 98% 98% 98%
FI                    
SVY S vol. 8 8 2,550 2,550 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
Rahtialus-yhdistys S vol. 15 15 1,100 1,100 83% 83% 85% 85%
AR S vol. 6 6 2,600 2,600 almost 100% almost 100% 25%–30% 25%–30%
FR                    
Armateurs de France C vol. 70 50–60 40,000 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
IE                    
IBEC/ Transport Council O vol. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
ICS C vol. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
IT                    
Confitarma C vol. 202 n.a. 35,600 n.a. 94% n.a. 93.4% n.a.
Fedarlinea S vol. 5 5 2,930 2,930 n.a. n.a. 11.4% 11.4%
Assorimor Chiatori S vol. 10 10 1,260 1,260 63% 63% 63% 63%
Federimor Chiatori S vol. 6 6 740 740 37% 37% 37% 37%
LT                    
LLSA C vol. 9 9 2,500 2,500 70% 70% 95% 95%
LU                    
ALIM C vol. 16 16 119 119 5.7% 5.7% 10.8% 10.8%
UAL C n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
LV                    
LSA C n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
MT                    
MISC C vol. 81 81 n.a. n.a. 7% 7% n.a. n.a.
NL                    
KVNR O vol. 421 318 n.a. n.a. 95% 95% n.a. n.a.
PL                    
ZAP C vol. 22 22 4,000 4,000 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
PT                    
AAMC C vol. 10e 10e 956e 956e 53% 53% 32.5% 32.5%
RO                    
ACNR C vol. 40 40 11,500 11,500 30% 30% 45% 45%
APTNEP O oblig. 30 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 16.4%f n.a. n.a.
SE                    
SRF C vol. 82 82 n.a. n.a. 90% 90% n.a. n.a.
SARF SO vol. 105 n.a. 11,700 n.a. 52% n.a. n.a. 76%
SI                    
ZLS C vol. 5 5 >70 > 70 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
UK                    
COS C vol. 134 134 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.

Notes: See Annex for full list of abbreviations and full names of organisations.

= Domain overlap; O = Overlap; SO = Sectional overlap; S = Sectionalism; C = Congruence; n.a. = not available; vol. = voluntary; oblig. = obligatory.

a= conducts collective bargaining also on behalf of both BR and RMS; b = in addition, DR has 16 associated shipping companies which are not sailing under the Danish flag; c = including foreign workers; d = 9,000 without foreign workers; e = 2000; f = NACE 61.

Table 5: Collective bargaining, consultation and national/European affiliations of employer organisations, 2005–2006
Source: EIRO national centres, 2007
Country Collective bargaining Consultation National and European affiliations*
AT      
FSÖ yes yes WKÖ, ECSA
BE      
KBRV yes yes VBO/FEB, ECSA
BG      
BSA no yes Vuzrazdane, ECSA
CY      
CUS yes yes ECSA
CYSEA yes n.a.  
CZ – no organisation
DE      
VDR yes yes ECSA
DK      
DRa yes no ECSA
BR yes b no  
RMS yes b no  
EE      
ELL no yes ETTK, ECSA
EL      
EEA yes yes  
EEE n.a. n.a. ECSA
Union of Domestic Ferries yes yes  
ES      
ANAVE yes yes CEOE, ANESCO, ECSA
FI      
SVY yes yes EK, ECSA
Rahtialusyhdistys yes yes  
AR yes yes ECSA
FR      
Armateurs de France yes yes MEDEF, ECSA
IE      
IBEC/Transport Council yes yes  
ICS no yes ECSA
IT      
Confitarma yes yes CONFIDUSTRIA, FEDERTRA-SPORTO, ECSA
Fedarlinea yes yes CONFCOMMER-CIO, ECSA
Assorimor Chiatori yes yes  
Federimor Chiatori yes yes  
LT      
LLSA no yes ECSA
LU      
ALIM yes yes  
UAL n.a. n.a. ECSA
LV      
LSA n.a. n.a. (ECSA)d
MT      
MISC no n.a. ECSA
NL      
KVNR yesc yes VNO-NCW, ECSA
PL      
ZAP no yes ECSA
PT      
AAMC no yes ECSA
RO      
ACNR yes yes CNPR
APTNEP yes yes CNPR
SE      
SRF no n.a. Svenskt näringsliv, ECSA
SARF yes yes Svenskt näringsliv, Transportgruppen
SI      
ZLS no yes GZS, ECSA
UK      
COS no yes ECSA

Notes: See Annex for full list of abbreviations and full names of organisations.

* Only sector-related European organisations listed.

a= conducts collective bargaining also on behalf of both BR and RMS; b = indirectly involved in CB via DR secretariat; c = indirectly via lower-order units; d = ECSA membership suspended in 2007 due to financial constraints; n.a. = not available.

Source: EIRO national centres, 2007

Collective bargaining and its actors

Table 3 listed all of the trade unions engaged in sector-related collective bargaining. The large numbers of trade unions, as well as the numerous domain overlaps, have resulted in rivalry over bargaining rights in several countries – in particular, in Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Portugal and Romania. In Ireland, a historical inter-union rivalry exists between the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) and the Seamen’s Union of Ireland (SUI) over the terrain of industrial relations in general. In Portugal, disputes have emerged, with some trade unions alleging that other unions have established a closed-shop arrangement in cooperation with several employers; this arrangement, which is considered as a betrayal of the employees, allegedly enables an inadmissible exchange of union membership fees to be deducted by the employer from pay for concession bargaining arrangements to the detriment of the employees concerned. In Romania, the Romanian Seafarers’ Free Union (Sindicatul Liber al Navigatorilor, SLN) has contested the representativeness of FSNN. Meanwhile, in Lithuania, plans for a merger have put considerable strain on the relationship between the Lithuanian Federation of Water Transport Workers’ Trade Unions (LVTDPSF) and the Union of Lithuanian Mariners (Lietuvos jūrininkų sąjunga, LJS). The same holds true for Finland’s sector-related employer organisations, where the sector is considered too small for the existence of three organisations in parallel. Apart from this, no further cases of competition over collective bargaining have been documented in relation to the employer side.

The data presented in Table 6 provide an overview of the system of sector-related collective bargaining in the 25 countries under consideration. The importance of collective bargaining as a means of employment regulation is measured by calculating the total number of employees covered by collective bargaining as a proportion of the total number of employees within a certain segment of the economy (see Traxler, F., Blaschke, S. and Kittel, B., National labour relations in internationalised markets, Oxford University Press, 2001). Accordingly, the sector’s rate of collective bargaining coverage is defined as the ratio of the number of employees covered by any kind of collective agreement to the total number of employees in the sector.

To delineate the bargaining system, two further indicators are used. The first indicator refers to the relevance of multi-employer bargaining, compared with single-employer bargaining. Multi-employer bargaining is defined as being conducted by an employer organisation on behalf of the employer side. In the case of single-employer bargaining, the company or its divisions is the party to the agreement. This includes cases where two or more companies jointly negotiate an agreement. The relative importance of multi-employer bargaining, measured as a percentage of the total number of employees covered by a collective agreement, therefore provides an indication of the impact of employer organisations on the overall collective bargaining process.

The second indicator considers whether statutory extension schemes have been applied to the sector. For reasons of brevity, this analysis is confined to extension schemes which widen the scope of a collective agreement to employers not affiliated to the signatory employer organisation; extension regulations targeting the employees are therefore not included in the research. Regulations concerning the employees are not significant to this analysis for two reasons. On the one hand, extending a collective agreement to the employees who are not unionised in the company covered by the collective agreement is a standard of the ILO, aside from any national legislation. Secondly, employers have good reason to extend a collective agreement concluded by them, even when they are not formally obliged to do so; otherwise, they would set an incentive for their workforce to unionise.

In comparison with employee-related extension procedures, schemes that target the employers are far more significant for the strength of collective bargaining in general and multi-employer bargaining in particular. This is because the employers are capable of refraining from both joining an employer organisation and entering single-employer bargaining in the context of a purely voluntaristic system. Therefore, employer-related extension practices increase the coverage of multi-employer bargaining. Moreover, when it is pervasive, an extension agreement may encourage more employers to join the controlling employer organisation; such a move then enables them to participate in the bargaining process and to benefit from the organisation’s related services in a situation where the respective collective agreement will bind them in any case (see Traxler, Blaschke and Kittel, 2001).

Table 6: System of sectoral collective bargaining, 2005–2006
Country Collective bargaining coverage (CBC) Proportion of multi-employer bargaining (MEB) as % of total CBC Extension practices
AT 100% 100% (pervasive)
BE 100% 100% limited
BG n.a.a 0% none
CY <30% MEB prevails pervasive
CZ 0%h none
DE 80%–100% 80% none
DK 90% 90% limited
EE 46%b 0% none
EL 100%d 100% none
ES 27%c SEB prevails limited
FI almost 100% 100% none
FR almost 100% MEB prevails pervasive
IE lowe n.a.e none
IT 100% 100% (pervasive)
LT 70%–80% 0% none
LU 10.8% n.a. none
LV >80% 0% none
MT >50% 0% none
NL n.a. 0% none
PL 75% 0% none
PT 20% 0%f noneg
RO almost 100% 100% pervasive
SE >50% MEB prevails limited
SI >33% 0% none
UK n.a. 0% none

Notes: Collective bargaining coverage means employees covered as a percentage of the total number of employees in the sector. Multi-employer bargaining is noted relative to single-employer bargaining (SEB). Extension practices include functional equivalents to extension provisions, that is, obligatory membership and labour court rulings; cases of functional equivalents appear in parentheses.

a= 100% in the state-owned Navibulgar company; b = figure probably inflated; c = 2004; d = foreign workers are not covered by national agreements, but by ITF agreements; e = only national-level, cross-sectoral multi-employer wage agreements for unionised workers – no sectoral bargaining, only a few single-employer agreements; f = companies jointly conduct collective bargaining, that is, through multi-company agreements; g = extension mechanisms only within companies with respect to non-unionised employees; h = only ITF standard agreements with foreign employers; n.a. = not available.

Source: EIRO national centres, 2007

Collective bargaining coverage

In terms of the sector’s collective bargaining coverage, 10 of the 21 countries for which related data are available record a very high coverage rate of about 80% or more (Table 6). The Czech Republic is the most notable exception in this respect as collective bargaining is completely absent due to the lack of domestic employers with unionised employees. Interestingly, the Czech OSN trade union only organises and represents employees working for foreign companies, which are covered by ITF agreements that are not recognised by national labour law as real collective agreements. Aside from the Czech Republic, the collective bargaining coverage rate is below 50% in at least six other countries – Cyprus, Estonia, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain – and possibly Slovenia. Depending on national circumstances, several factors which sometimes interact with each other account for the high coverage rates (80% or more) of almost half of the countries under consideration. Multi-employer bargaining coincides with a high density of the trade unions and/or employer organisations, for example in Denmark, Finland and Greece. In France and Romania, the high coverage is supported both by high density rates and pervasive extension practices. In Austria, obligatory membership in the employer organisation works as a functional equivalent to pervasive extension practices. While collective bargaining coverage in countries with prevalent multi-employer bargaining is generally very high, with the exception of Cyprus, coverage is much more variable across countries operating under single-employer bargaining. In such circumstances, coverage ranges from 20% or even lower to over 80% in countries such as Portugal and Latvia, respectively.

A broad estimate can be made of the relative importance of multi-employer bargaining. This type of bargaining prevails in exactly half of the 22 countries for which data are available, while the same number of countries is characterised by predominant or – in the case of 10 of these 11 countries – exclusive single-employer bargaining. Spain is the only country among the latter group for which a mixed system of both single and multi-employer bargaining is documented. On average, the collective bargaining coverage in countries where single-employer arrangements prevail is significantly lower compared with that of the countries where multi-employer bargaining prevails. Thus, with the exception of Latvia, Lithuania and perhaps Poland, single-employer bargaining seems to be less effective compared with multi-employer bargaining in relation to regulating employment terms in the maritime sector. It should be noted that multi-employer bargaining does not mean sectoral-level bargaining in all of these cases. In Ireland, for instance, national-level multi-employer wage agreements cover all unionised workers in the sector. Ireland may also represent an example of a country where central, cross-sectoral multi-employer bargaining is supplemented by company bargaining, while sector-level bargaining does not exist.

Nevertheless, as previously highlighted, the findings in this section must be interpreted with a degree of caution, as the reported data for an indefinite number of countries only refer to ‘standard’ employment, while various categories of atypical workers and most foreign workers are not taken into account.

Since extension schemes can only be applied to multi-employer settlements, the widespread practice of single-employer bargaining limits their use, even in cases where the labour law provides for such schemes. Pervasive extension practices are reported for Cyprus, France and Romania, while they appear to be rather limited in Belgium, Denmark, Estonia and Sweden. Referring to the aim of extension provisions, that is, making multi-employer agreements generally binding, the provisions for obligatory membership in the chambers of Austria and Slovenia – which were subsequently abolished in the latter country in 2007 – should also be noted. Obligatory membership creates an extension effect, since the chambers are parties to multi-employer bargaining. Another functional equivalent to statutory extension schemes can be found in Italy. According to the country’s constitution, minimum conditions of employment must apply to all employees. The country’s Labour Court rulings relate this principle to the multi-employer agreements, to the extent that they are regarded as generally binding.

Participation in public policymaking

Interest associations may participate in public policy in two basic ways: firstly, they may be consulted by the authorities on matters affecting their members; or secondly, they may be represented on ‘corporatist’, in other words tripartite, committees and boards of policy concertation. This study considers only cases of consultation and corporatist participation which relate to sector-specific matters. Consultation processes are not necessarily institutionalised and, therefore, the organisations consulted by the authorities may vary according to the issues to be addressed and also over time, depending on changes in government. Moreover, the authorities may initiate a consultation process on an occasional rather than a regular basis. Given this variability, Tables 3–5 only list those sector-related trade unions and employer organisations that are usually consulted.

Trade unions

The trade unions are consulted by the authorities in the majority of countries. In 23 of the 25 countries under consideration, regular consultation processes with the trade unions are reported. Only Austria and Denmark cite a lack of regular consultation. Since a multi-union system has been established in most countries, one cannot rule out the possibility that the authorities favour certain trade unions over others or that the unions compete for participation rights. However, in the majority of countries where a noticeable practice of consultation is observed, any of the existing trade unions may take part in the consultation process. The only exceptions in this respect are Bulgaria, Germany, Slovenia and Spain. As a result, inter-union conflicts over participation in public policy matters do not figure prominently. Nonetheless, in Austria and Malta, the trade unions have alleged that they are frequently disregarded by the authorities in sector-specific matters.

Employer organisations

Similarly, the sector-related employer organisations appear to be involved in consultation procedures in all of the countries where they exist, with the exception of Denmark. Due to their monopoly-like position in many countries, no conflicts over the participation rights of employer organisations are reported. In the multi-organisation system of Finland, Ireland and Italy, where related data on all employer organisations are available, all of the system’s organisations are consulted. Where trade unions and employer organisations co-exist, the common pattern is for both sides of industry to be either consulted or not consulted. Of the 22 countries for which information on consultation is reported for organised business and labour, representatives of both sides are consulted in 20 cases, whereas neither side is consulted in only one country – that is, Denmark. Only Austria deviates from this pattern, demonstrating asymmetrical consultation practices. In the Czech Republic, where an employer organisation in the context of the aforementioned definition of a social partner organisation does not exist, employers are not necessarily excluded from consultation procedures and sectoral trade associations may be consulted. In Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and the United Kingdom (UK) only those organisations, which exclusively exist in each of the countries, that qualify as a social partner organisation solely due to their affiliation to ECSA are consulted on behalf of business; otherwise, such organisations would be classed in the category of trade associations. This finding suggests that consultation may deal with product market rather than labour market interests, as far as the sea and coastal water transport sector is concerned.

Tripartite participation

Turning from consultation to tripartite participation, the findings reveal that sector-specific tripartite bodies have been established in 10 of the 25 countries under consideration. Table 7 lists a total of 17 bodies of this kind. With the exception of the German and Polish bodies which are based on a bipartite agreement of the social partners, the remainder are all based on statutes. Most of these bodies primarily deal with labour market issues, with a special focus on matters relating to educational or vocational as well as social security aspects. This reflects the need in virtually all of the countries with a noticeable shipping industry to regulate the sector’s liberalised labour market, which is characterised by a lack of coherent legislation throughout Europe. Low standards in terms of regulation – in particular, with respect to the vocational and educational system, the social insurance system and labour law – have rendered careers in shipping less attractive, as well as thwarting the goal of quality shipping. Hence, in order to provide for high labour market expertise in a narrowly defined segment of the economy, most of the tripartite bodies are composed of sector-related associations on both sides of industry rather than cross-sectoral peak organisations.

Table 7: Tripartite sector-specific boards of public policy, 2005–2006
Country Name of body and scope of activity Origin Participants
Trade unions Business associations
BG Subsectoral Council for Social Partnership for Water Transport – Ministry of Transport Statutory Seamen’s Syndicate, UTTUB Bulgarian Sea Chamber, Bulgarian Shipowners’ Association
DE German Maritime Law Association Agreement ver.di VDR
DK Danish Maritime Educational Council Vocational Committee for Maritime Metal Training Danish Maritime Supervisory Board Statutory Statutory Statutory Metal Sofart, 3F, DSRF, MMF, SL-DN Dansk Metal, Metal Sofart, 3F Metal Sofart, 3F, DSRF, MMF, SL-DN DR, BR, RMS DR DR, BR, RMS
EL Greek Seamen’s Pension Fund Maritime Education Council Coastal Transportation Council Statutory Statutory Statutory PNO PNO PNO EEA, EEE, Union of Domestic Ferries EEA EEA
FI Advisory Committee for Seamen’s Affairs Advisory Committee of Navigation Finnish Seamen’s Service Statutory Statutory Statutory S-MU, SLPL, SKL S-MU, SLPL, SKL S-MU, SLPL, SKL SVY, Rahtialusyhdistys, AR SVY, Rahtialusyhdistys, AR SVY, Rahtialusyhdistys, AR
FR Higher Council of the Merchant Navy Statutory CFDT, CGT, CFE-CGC, CGT-FO, CFTC Armateurs de France
IT Social Security Board for the Maritime Sector Statutory n.a. Confitarma
PL Tripartite Committee for Shipping and Deep-sea Fisheries Agreement NSZZ Solidarność, OPZZ, OZZOiM ZAP
PT Comissão de Lotacões IPTM consultative council Statutory Statutory FESMAR n.a. AAMC n.a.
RO National Maritime Tripartite Committee Statutory SLN ACNR, Romanian Crewing Association (RCA)

Notes: See Annex for list of abbreviations and full names of organisations. n.a. = not available.

Source: EIRO national centres, 2007


European level of interest representation

At European level, eligibility for consultation and participation in social dialogue is linked to three criteria, as defined by the European Commission. Accordingly, a social partner organisation must have the following attributes:

  • be cross-industry or relate to specific sectors or categories, and be organised at European level;
  • consist of organisations which are themselves an integral and recognised part of Member States’ social partner structures and which have the capacity to negotiate agreements, as well as being representative of all Member States, as far as possible;
  • have adequate structures to ensure their effective participation in the consultation process.

Regarding social dialogue, the constituent feature is the ability of such organisations to negotiate on behalf of their members and to conclude binding agreements. Accordingly, this section on European associations of the sea and coastal water transport sector will analyse these organisations’ membership domain, the composition of their membership and their ability to negotiate.

As outlined in greater detail below, one sector-related European association on the employee side – namely, ETF – and one on the employer side – namely, ECSA – are particularly significant in the maritime transport sector; both of them are listed by the European Commission as a social partner organisation consulted under Article 138 of the EC Treaty. Hence, the following analysis will concentrate on these two organisations, while providing supplementary information on others which are linked to the sector’s national industrial relations actors.

Membership domain

Since ETF, which is affiliated to the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), organises the entire transport sector, its membership domain overlaps with the sea and coastal water transport sector. The domain of ECSA largely coincides with the sector, as this association represents the maritime transport industry – also including, however, port-related services and supporting water transport activities, which are not covered by the sea and coastal water transport sector. Hence, ECSA’s domain also overlaps with the sector under consideration. ECSA only organises business associations rather than individual companies.

Membership composition

In terms of membership composition, it should be noted that ETF and ECSA cover all of the 25 countries examined in this study; however, the report will only consider the members of these 25 countries. Furthermore, the study will be confined to sector-related affiliates only. Table 8 lists the ETF membership. ETF has members from all of the 25 countries under consideration, recording multiple memberships in several countries. In total, ETF counts 55 direct affiliations from the countries under examination. About 70% of the trade unions listed in Table 3 are either directly – or indirectly via higher-order units – affiliated to ETF. As far as available data on sectoral membership of the national trade unions provide sufficient information on their relative strength, one can conclude that ETF covers the sector’s most important labour representatives. Exceptional cases whereby major trade unions are not covered can be found in Cyprus and Sweden. However, even in these instances, other important trade unions are covered. All sector-related members of ETF, for which pertinent information is available, are involved in collective bargaining – with the exception of LJS in Lithuania and the Union of Captains, Official Pilots, Commissioners, and Engineers of the Merchant Marine (Oficiaismar-FSM) in Portugal.

Table 8: Members of ETF, 2007
Country Members
AT vida*
BE ACV Transcom*, BTB*
BG Seafarers’ Trade Union*, Seamen’s Syndicate*
CY OMEPEGE*
CZ OSN*
DE Ver.di*, Transnet*, GDBA*
DK 3F*, Dansk Metal*, SL-DN*
EE MA*, EMSA*, EFWTWU**
EL PNO*
ES ELA/STV*, CC.OO*, UGT*
FI S-MU*, SLPL*, SKL*
FR CFTC*, FGTE-CFDT*, FOMM-CGT*, FNSM-CGT*, CGT-FO* (FETS-FO*, FECCNL-CGT-FO*)
IE SIPTU*
IT FILT-CGIL*, FIT-CISL*, UILTRASPORTI*
LT LJS
LU OGB-L*, FNCTTFEL*
LV LTFJA*, UTAF*
MT GWU*
NL Nautilus*, CNV Bedrijvenbond**
PL NSZZ Solidarność*, OZZOiM*, FZZMR-OPZZ*, ZZKiO**
PT FSM* (OFICIAISMAR, SIMAMEVIP*), FESMAR* (SEMM, SINCOMAR, SITEMAQ, SMMCMM), SOEMM**
RO SLN*
SE SEKO*, HTF*, SFBF*
SI SPS*
UK RMT*, T&G*, Nautilus UK*

Notes: See Annex for list of abbreviations and full names of organisations.

List is confined to sector-related trade union organisations of the countries under consideration. See Annex for list of abbreviations and full names of organisations.

* Involved in collective bargaining.

** No information available on collective bargaining involvement.

Organisations in parentheses are sector-related trade unions listed in Table 3 which are indirectly affiliated through national higher-order organisations.

Source: EIRO national centres, 2007

Table 9 lists the members of ECSA. Of the 25 countries under consideration, ECSA has 23 under its umbrella through associational members from these countries. The Czech Republic and Romania are not covered by ECSA, while the formal membership of the Latvian Shipowners’ Association (LSA) was suspended in 2007 due to financial constraints. Table 5 indicates that affiliated and unaffiliated associations co-exist in Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg and Sweden. Lack of comparable membership data makes it difficult to ascertain the relative importance of affiliated and unaffiliated organisations in these countries. Taking into account the respective organisations’ role in collective bargaining as an indicator of their significance, it is clear that the most important organisations in Cyprus, Denmark, Finland and Italy are affiliated to ECSA. In Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg and Sweden, a number of important employer organisations which are involved in bargaining are not affiliated to ECSA – namely, the Union of Coastal Shipowners (EEA) and the Union of Domestic Ferries in Greece, IBEC in Ireland, ALIM in Luxembourg and the Swedish Transport Group (SARF) in Sweden. Conversely, in a number of countries – that is, Estonia, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK – affiliates of ECSA are not engaged in bargaining. With the exception of Ireland and Sweden, no other association that is involved in bargaining exists in these countries. The reason for this is that in this group of countries, excluding Sweden, sectoral multi-employer bargaining is absent, and the companies themselves are engaged in collective bargaining. In Ireland (on behalf of individual companies) and Sweden (in the form of multi-employer bargaining), collective bargaining is conducted by an unaffiliated employer organisation.

In comparison with ETF, a larger proportion of ECSA’s member organisations are not involved in bargaining. Industrial relations are thus not the primary concern of these organisations. Some ECSA members may have a role in industrial relations only through consultation procedures and participation in tripartite bodies (see above); in fact, they may regard themselves as trade associations rather than industrial relations actors. By contrast, ECSA members cover collective bargaining in just 10 of the 25 countries in question – namely, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

Table 9: Members of ECSA, 2007
Country Members
AT FSÖ*
BE KBRV*
BG BSA
CY CUS*
CZ
DE VDR*
DK DR*
EE ELL
EL EEE**
ES ANAVE*
FI SVY*, AR*
FR Armateurs de France*
IE ICS
IT Confitarma*, Fedarlinea*
LT LLSA
LU UAL**
LV (LSA)***
MT MISC
NL KVNR*
PL ZAP
PT AAMC
RO
SE SRF
SI ZLS
UK COS

Notes: See Annex for list of abbreviations and full names of organisations.

List is confined to the sector-related employer organisations of the countries under consideration.

*Involved in collective bargaining

**No information available on collective bargaining involvement.

***ECSA membership suspended in 2007 due to financial constraints.

Source: EIRO national centres, 2007

Capacity to negotiate

The third criterion of representativeness at European level relates to the organisations’ capacity to negotiate on behalf of their own members. ETF and ECSA are allowed to negotiate on matters concerning the European social dialogue. However, ETF does not have a permanent mandate in this respect. Rather, it is mandated to provisionally negotiate on behalf of its members on a case-by-case basis.

As proof of the weight of ETF and ECSA, it is useful to look at other European organisations which may be important representatives of the sector. This can be done by reviewing the other European organisations to which the sector-related trade unions and employer associations are affiliated.

For the trade unions, these affiliations are listed in Table 3. Accordingly, European organisations other than ETF represent only a small proportion of both sector-related trade unions and countries. Among the organisations listed are the following: the Union Network International (UNI-Europa), with six affiliations covering three countries; the Nordic Transport Workers’ Federation (Nordiska Transportarbetarefederationen, NTF), with five affiliations covering three countries; the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), with four affiliations covering three countries; the European Federation of Trade Unions in the Food, Agriculture and Tourism Sectors and Allied Branches (EFFAT) and the European Mine, Chemical and Energy Workers’ Federation (EMCEF), with three affiliations each covering three countries; the European Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF), with three affiliations covering two countries; the Nordic Shipping Officers’ Congress (NFBK), with two affiliations covering two countries; the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) and the Federation of European Retired Personnel Association (FERPA), with two affiliations each covering one country; and the European Trade Union Committee for Textiles, Clothing and Leather (ETUF-TCL), EURO-WEA, Nording, the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) and the European Federation of Executives in the Sectors of Energy and Research (Féderation des cadres de l’energie et de la recherche, FECER), with one affiliation each. While the affiliations listed in Table 3 may not necessarily be exhaustive, this overview underlines the principal status of ETF as the sector’s labour representative, particularly since many of the aforementioned affiliations to other European organisations reflect the overlapping domains of the affiliates rather than a real reference of the affiliations as such to the sea and coastal water transport sector.

Table 5 provided a similar overview of European organisations to which employer organisations are affiliated. The results indicate that organisational links of the sector-related employer associations with European federations other than ECSA are non-existent. In fact, Table 5 does not list one single federation other than ECSA at European level. Affiliations are recorded only for federations at international level, such as ICS, ISF, the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), Intertanko and the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (Intercargo). This highlights the relevance of ECSA as the unmatched European voice of business in the sea and coastal water transport sector.


Commentary

Like other sectors, the shipping industry has undergone economic restructuring in the wake of EU efforts to open up national maritime markets to competition and make the internal market complete. However, with the exception of a handful of countries, such as Poland and Romania, where restructuring has been accompanied by major liberalisation and privatisation processes, economic restructuring seems to have led to only minor changes in the national industrial relations systems. Only in Ireland and Malta has restructuring been accompanied by dramatic de-unionisation effects. Overall, economic restructuring in the shipping industry has, in fact, had a downward effect in several countries in terms of tonnage capacity, turnover and, in particular, employment for the past three decades, largely due to competitive disadvantages of European shipping. Since the early 2000s, this trend may have reversed in some countries, such as Belgium and the UK, through the pursuit of a coherent government maritime policy. Accordingly, a range of special measures were introduced – such as a reduction in social security contributions, tax exemptions and a tonnage tax system for shipping companies to create an attractive national ship register.

In some EU countries, the recovery of the shipping industry has been buttressed by relatively stable national industrial relations systems. As previously outlined, the density of both the trade unions and employer organisations is very high. The sector’s organisational strength is also reflected in the comparatively high level of collective bargaining coverage. In the case of large companies dominating the sector, single-employer bargaining tends to prevail. However, in a notable number of countries, multi-employer bargaining conducted by employer organisations is the dominating pattern. Overall, there are as many countries operating under predominant multi-employer bargaining as there are countries with prevalent single-employer bargaining. However, it is important to note that – at least with respect to workers’ representation – the sector’s organisational strength holds true only for a certain section of the shipping industry. Depending on national regulation, certain categories of employees – mostly foreign nationals and thus often the majority (up to 95%) of the respective countries’ seafarers – are excluded from national standard labour or social security law and/or coverage by applicable collective agreements – as seen, at least, in the case of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark and the Netherlands. In Denmark, for instance, legislation on the Danish International Register of Shipping entitles shipowners to exclude foreign employees, even EU nationals, from the terms and conditions of the applicable collective agreement – a provision which is supposed to be in breach of EU law. Moreover, the high incidence of atypical and poorly regulated employment in the sector strongly questions the finding of well-established industrial relations structures, at least as far as the ‘non-standard’ segment of the sector is concerned.

Many EU shipowners have sought to reduce costs in order to remain competitive in a global market. A trend for ‘flagging out’ and replacing EU crews with cheaper third-country nationals, who are often subjected to inferior conditions, has been observed since the late 1970s. In recent years, the latter practice has spread from open or ‘flags of convenience’ registers to certain national flag registers, for the purpose of circumventing national legislation and collective bargaining arrangements. Against the background of fierce international competition in relation to costs rather than quality, there is little to prevent shipping companies under existing national, EU and international maritime law from re-flagging and placing downward pressures on collective bargaining and labour standards. Since ECSA represents both quality and sub-standard shipping companies, it has failed to develop a coherent policy line in this respect thus far. This makes it even more difficult for the parties to the European social dialogue to agree on an encompassing regulatory framework for employment and social security matters in the maritime transport sector.

Nevertheless, in November 2007, ECSA and ETF reached an agreement to incorporate certain provisions of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention 2006 into EU law. The intention is to have the agreement implemented through a Council Directive in accordance with Article 139 of the EC Treaty. In concluding the agreement, the social partners in the European maritime shipping industry stress the need to implement labour standards which are applicable to all seafarers on board vessels. However, it remains to be seen whether these provisions – even when they are legally binding at EU level – will suffice for achieving this goal of the social partners.

In relation to the sector’s national trade unions, their lack of effective representativeness with regard to the ‘non-standard’ segment of the sector translates into ETF’s limited competence in terms of coherent labour market regulation at European level. In order to compensate for this deficiency, ETF has adopted a two-fold political strategy. On the one hand, it plays its part as a recognised party to the official sectoral social dialogue at EU level compared with its employer counterpart, that is, ECSA. At the same time, under the umbrella of ITF, it has entered the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) in order to cover the terms and conditions of seafarers on open registry ships, which tend to be disregarded by the European social dialogue. In the latter field of operation, industrial relations are usually less straightforward and more immediate, in that the enforcement of collective arrangements on board open registry ships is often accompanied by the threat of industrial action. This ‘dual’ structure of trade union strategy reflects the limited efficacy of the unions’ representativeness and thus of the sectoral social dialogue both at national and European level. With regard to the employer side, ECSA is certainly by far the most significant, if not the only EU-wide representative of the sector’s employers. Thus, despite their limited competence in terms of encompassing labour market regulation, ETF and ECSA are the unmatched European representatives of the sector’s actors on both sides of the industry.


Annex: List of abbreviations

Country Abbreviation Full name of organisation
Austria (AT) FSÖ Administrative Data of the Austrian Shipowners’ Association
  ÖGB Austrian Trade Union Federation
  vida Vida Trade Union
  WKÖ Austrian Federal Economic Chamber
Belgium (BE) ABVV/FGTB Belgian General Federation of Labour – Central Food, Horeca and Services
  ACV/CSC Confederation of Christian Trade Unions – Food and Services Centre
  ACV/CSC-Transcom Confederation of Christian Trade Unions, Food and Services Centre – Transcom
  BTB Belgian Transport Workers’ Federation
  KBRV Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association
  VBO/FEB Belgian Federation of Employers
Bulgaria (BG) BSA Bulgarian Shipowners’ Association
  CITUB Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria
  CL ‘Podkrepa’ Confederation of Labour ‘Podkrepa’
  Navibulgar Navigation Maritime Bulgare
  UTTUB Union of Transport Trade Unions in Bulgaria
  Vuzrazdane Union of Private Bulgarian Entrepreneurs –Bulgarian Shipmasters’ Association
Cyprus (CY) CUS Cyprus Union of Shipowners
  CYSEA Cyprus Shipowners Employers’ Association
  OMEPEGE Federation of Transport, Petroleum and Agriculture Workers
  PEO Pancyprian Federation of Labour
  Segdamelin Cyprus Agricultural, Forestry, Transport, Port, Seamen and Allied Occupations Trade Union
  SEK Cyprus Workers’ Confederation
Czech Republic (CZ) CMKOS Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions
  OSN Czech Trade Union of Seafarers
Denmark (DK) 3F United Federation of Danish Workers
  BR Car Ferry Shipowners’ Association
  CO-Industri Central Organisation of Industrial Employees in Denmark
  DEF Danish Union of Electricians
  DR Danish Shipowners’ Association
  DSRF Danish Maritime Catering Union
  FTF Confederation of Salaried Employees and Civil Servants in DK
  HK Union of Commercial and Clerical Employees in Denmark
  LO Danish Confederation of Trade Unions
  Dansk Metal Danish Metalworkers’ Union
  Metal Søfart Metal Sea Transport
  MMF Danish Engineers’ Association
  RMS Shipowners’ Association for Smaller Vessels
  SL-DN Danish Maritime Officers
Estonia (EE) EAKL Confederation of Estonian Trade Unions
  EFWTWU Estonian Federation of Water Transport Workers’ Unions
  ELL Estonian Shipowners’ Association
  EMSA Estonian Seamen’s Independent Union
  ETTK Estonian Employers’ Confederation
  MA Estonian Seafarers’ Union
  TAF Federation of Transport Trade Unions
  PNO Pan Hellenic Seafarers’ Federation
Finland (FI) AR Aland Shipowners’ Association
  EK Central Union of Special Branches within AKAVA
  Rahtialusyhdistys Cargoship Association
  SAK Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions
  SKL Finnish Engineers’ Association
  SLPL Finnish Ship’ Officers’ Association
  S-MU Finnish Seamen’s Union
  STTK Finnish Confederation of Salaried Employees
  SVY Finnish Shipowners’ Association
France (FR) CFDT French Democratic Confederation of Labour
  CFE-CGC French Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff – General Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff
  CFTC French Christian Workers’ Confederation
  CGT General Confederation of Labour
  CGT-FO General Confederation of Labour – Force ouvrière
  FECCNL-CGT-FO Federation of Office Staff and Executives of Free Navigation Companies – General Confederation of Labour – Force ouvrière
  FETS-FO Maritime section of the Federation of Civil Engineering, Transport and Services, Merchant Navy Sector
  FGTE-CFDT General Federation of Transport and Civil Engineering, Maritime Transport Sector
  FNSM-CGT National Federation of Maritime Unions – General Confederation of Labour
  FOMM-CGT Federation of Officers of the Merchant Navy – General Confederation of Labour
  MEDEF Movement of French Enterprises
  SNCNMM-CFE-CGC National Union of Merchant Navy Sailing Executives – French Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff – General Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff
  SNCPSCN-CFE-CGC National Union of Sedentary Executives of Navigation Companies – French Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff – General Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff
  SNPNSMM-CFTC National Union of Merchant Navy Sailing and Sedentary Staff – French Christian Workers’ Confederation
  SNPOMM-CFE-CGC National Union of Merchant Navy Officers – French Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff – General Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff
Germany (DE) DBB German Civil Service Association
  DGB Confederation of German Trade Unions
  Verkehrsgewerkschaft GDBA Transport Trade Union (union representing railway career public servants)
  Transnet Transnet Gewerkschaft GdED
  VDR Association of German Shipowners
  ver.di United Services Union
Greece (EL) EEA Union of Coastal Shipowners
  EEE Union of Greek Shipowners
  GSEE Greek General Confederation of Labour
  PNO Pan Hellenic Seafarers’ Federation
Ireland (IE) IBEC-Transport Council Irish Business and Employers Confederation – Transport Council
  ICS Irish Chamber of Shipping
  ICTU Irish Congress of Trade Unions
  SIPTU Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union
  SUI Seamen’s Union of Ireland
Italy (IT) Assorimorchiatori Italian Tugowners’ Association
  CGIL General Confederation of Italian Workers
  CISL Italian Confederation of Workers’ Union
  Confcommercio Italian General Confederation of Commerce, Tourism, Services, Professions, and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
  Confindustria General Confederation of Italian Industry
  Confitarma Italian Shipowners’ Confederation
  Fedarlinea Italian Association of Shipping Lines
  Federimorchiatori Italian Tugowners’ Federation
  Federtrasporto Federation of Transport Systems and Procedures
  FILT Italian Federation of Transport Workers
  FIT Italian Transport Federation
  UIL Union of Italian Workers
  UILT-Uiltrasporti Italian Union of Transport Workers
Latvia (LV) LBAS Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia
  LNJA Latvian National Seafarers’ Trade Union
  LSA Latvian Shipowners’ Association
  LTFJA Seafarers’ Union of Merchant Fleet of Latvia
  UTAF Water Transport Trade Union Federation of Latvia
Lithuania (LT) LJS Union of Lithuanian Mariners
  LLSA Lithuanian Shipowners’ Association
  LPSK Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation
  LVTDPSF Lithuanian Federation of Water Transport Workers’ Trade Unions
Luxembourg (LU) ALIM Luxembourg Association of Shipping Interests
  FCPT-Syprolux Christian Transport Workers’ Federation – Professional Trade Union of Luxembourg Railway Workers
  FNCTTFEL Luxembourg National Federation of Railway Workers, Transport Workers, Civil Servants and Public Employees
  LCGB Luxembourg Christian Trade Union Federation
  OGB-L Luxembourg Confederation of Independent Trade Unions
  UAL Luxembourg Shipowners’ Union
Malta (MT) CMTU Confederation of Malta Trade Unions
  GWU General Workers’ Union
  MISC Malta International Shipping Council
  UHM Union of United Workers
Netherlands (NL) CNV Christian Trade Union Federation
  CNV Bedrijvenbond Sectoral Affiliate of the Christian Trade Union Federation
  FNV Federation of Dutch Trade Unions
  KVNR Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners
  Nautilus Union for Maritime Professionals
  VNO-NCW Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers
Poland (PL) FZZMR-OPZZ Seamen and Fishermen Trade Union Federation associated with the All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions
  NSZZ Solidarność Independent and Self-Governing Trade Union ‘Solidarity’ (NSZZ Solidarity)
  OPZZ All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions
  OZZOiM Polish Seafarers’ Union
  ZAP Polish Shipowners’ Association
  ZZKiO Shipmasters’ and Officers’ Union
Portugal (PT) AAMC Association of Shipowners of the Merchant Marine
  FESMAR Federation of Sea Workers
  FSM Federation of Unions of the Sea
  Oficiaismar Union of Captains, Official Pilots, Commissioners, and Engineers of the Merchant Marine
  SEMM Union of Engineers in the Merchant Marine
  SIMAMEVIP Union Workers at the Merchant Marine, Transport Agents and Fishery
  SINCOMAR Union of Captains [and] Officers of the Merchant Marine
  SITEMAQ Union of Seamanship at the Merchant Marine, Energy and Stokers on Land
  SMMCMM Union of Petty Officers and Seamanship at the Merchant Marine
  SOEMMM Union of Officers and Machine Engineers of the Merchant Marine
  UGT General Workers’ Confederation
Romania (RO) ACNR Romanian Shipowners’ Association
  APTNEP Employers’ Association in Maritime Transport and Port Exploitations
  ASTR Trade Unions of Transport Operators in Romania
  CNPR National Confederation of Romanian Employers
  CSN Meridian National Trade Union Confederation Meridian
  CSNTR Romanian Transport Workers’ Trade Union Convention
  FSNN National Union Federation ‘the Navigator’
  RCA Romanian Crewing Association
  SLN Romanian Seafarers’ Free Union
Slovenia (SI) Alternativa Slovenian Association of Trade Unions
  GZS Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia
  KNSS Confederation of New Trade Unions of Slovenia
  KS90 Confederation of Trade Unions of Slovenia ‘90
  SDPS Trade Union of Workers in Seamanship of Slovenia Ashore
  SDPZ Trade Union of Workers in Transport and Communications
  SPS Seamen Trade Union of Slovenia
  ZLS Association of Shipowners of Slovenia
  ZPUS Association of Masters and Chief Engineers
  ZSSS Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia
Spain (ES) ANAVE Spanish Shipowners’ Association
  ANESCO National Association of Dockers and Consignee Companies
  CC.OO Communication and Transport Federation of the Trade Union Confederation of Workers’ Commissions
  CEOE Spanish Confederation of Employers’ Organisations
  CGT Communication and Transport Federation of the General Workers’ Confederation
  CIG Food, Textile, Transport, Telecommunications and Sea Industries Federation of the Galician Multi-Union Confederation
  ELA/STV Basque Workers’ Solidarity
  LAB Patriotic Workers’ Confederation
  UGT State Federation of Transport, Communication and Sea of the General Workers’ Union
Sweden (SE) CF Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers
  HTF Salaried Employees’ Union
  Ledarna Swedish Association for Managerial and Professional Staff
  LO Swedish Trade Union Confederation
  SACO Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations
  SARF Swedish Transport Group
  SBF Merchant Marine Officers Association
  SEKO Swedish Association for Service and Communication
  SFBF Swedish Ship Officers’ Association
  SRF Swedish Shipowners’ Association
  Svenskt Näringsliv Confederation of Swedish Enterprise
  TCO Swedish Confederation for Professional Employees
  Transportgruppen Swedish Transport Group
United Kingdom (UK) COS Chamber of Shipping
  Nautilus UK National Union of Marine, Aviation and Shipping Transport Officers (NUMAST) until 2006
  RMT National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers
  T&G Transport and General Workers’ Union
  TUC Trades Union Congress
     
Europe BIMCO The Baltic and International Maritime Council
  ECSA European Community Shipowners’ Association
  EFBWW European Federation of Building and Wood Workers
  EFFAT European Federation of Trade Unions in the Food, Agriculture and Tourism Sectors and Allied Branches
  EMCEF European Mine, Chemical and Energy Workers’ Federation
  EMF European Metalworkers’ Federation
  EMPA Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly
  EPSU European Federation of Public Service Unions
  ETF European Transport Workers’ Federation
  ETUC European Trade Union Confederation
  ETUF-TCL European Trade Union Federation – Textiles, Clothing and Leather
  EURO WEA European Workers’ Education Association
  Eurofedop European Organisational of Public Service Employees
  FERPA Federation of Europe Retired Personnel Association
  ICS International Chamber of Shipping
  Intercargo International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners
  Intertanko International Association of Independent Tanker Owners
  ISF International Shipping Federation
  NFBK Nordic Shipping Officers’ Congress
  NordIng Collaboration between 11 engineering societies in the Nordic countries
  NTF Nordic Transport Workers’ Federation
  UNI-Europa Union Network International – Europa

Georg Adam and Franz Traxler, Department of Industrial Sociology, University of Vienna

EF/08/33

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