Belgium: The representativeness of trade unions and employer associations in the private security sector

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 28 June 2012



About
Country:
Belgium
Author:
Marie Van den broeck
Institution:

Although the private security sector represents just a small part of the total employment in the Belgian economy (less than 1%), it constitutes a growing sector in terms of turnover and also in integrating low-skilled workers into the labour market. Collective bargaining in the private security sector is concentrated at sectoral level. The Federation of Liberal Trade Unions of Belgium (CGSBL/ACLVB) which was not considered as a representative workers’ organisation in 2003 is now part of the social dialogue. On the employers’ side, the Private Security Association (APEG/BVBO) still holds all the mandates in the sectoral joint committee (number 317, Private security services and surveillance services) and is therefore the only employers’ organisation that can conclude collective agreements at sectoral level.

Sectoral properties

Economic background

According to the Private Security Association (APEG/BVBO), the private security services and surveillance services sector has been affected by the economic downturn. The association represents more than 90% of the companies operating in Belgium’s private security sector, which together employ 90% of the country’s private security agents. In the APEG/BVBO’s annual report, although the figures show a two-year economic growth period in the sector (turnover increased by 6.5% in 2007 and by 6.3% in 2008) it was followed by a slowing down of activity in 2009 (+1.2%). However, even in 2009, members of the APEG/BVBO’s still achieved a turnover of around EUR 600 million.

Currently, there are more than 15,000 workers in the private guarding services and surveillance services sector (See Table 1). Most of them (80%) are blue-collar workers. The APEG/BVBO claims that companies in the sector are continuing to create jobs and are helping low-skilled workers integrate into the labour market. It should be noted that 45% of activity in the sector is based in the Brussels-Capital Region, with 36% in Flanders and 19% in Wallonia. The distribution in terms of employment is also concentrated in Brussels (47%) with 37% in Flanders and 16% in Wallonia.

According to the specific remit of the sector, and the necessity of maintaining a clear boundary with the police forces, the Ministry of Interior established a strict legal framework in terms of such issues as approval and competencies.

Table 1: Sectoral Properties
  1996 2008
Number of companies in the sector

0

174

Source of company data

please describe

National Social Security Office (Office National de la sécurité sociale/Rijksdienst voor Sociale Zekerheid, ONSS/RSZ),

  1998  
Aggregate employment

0

15,109

Male employment

0

12,818

Female employment

0

2,291

Share of sectoral employment in %

0%

0.45

Source of employment figures

please describe

National Social Security Office (ONSS/RSZ) and National Institute for the Social Security of the Self-employed (INASTI/RSVZ)

Comment

If employment is taken from another source than the one provided, please provide your reasons, referring to meta-data.

Table 1: Sectoral Properties
Aggregate employees

0

15,086

Male employees

0

12,808

Female employees

0

2,278

Share of sectoral employees in %

0

0

Comment

If employee figures are taken from another source than the one provided, please provide your reasons, referring to meta-data.

2. The sector’s trade unions and employer associations

This section includes the following trade unions and employer associations:

(i) trade unions which are party to sector-related collective bargaining

(ii) trade unions which are a member of the sector-related European Union Federation (i.e. UNI-Europa – Property Services) and are members of the existing European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee.

(iii) employer associations which are a party to sector-related collective bargaining

(iv) employer associations (business associations) which are a member of the sector-related European Employer/Business Federations (i.e. CoESS – Confederation of European Security Services)

2a Data on the trade unions

Table 2: Union Fact sheet: Christian Federation for Food and Services (CCAS/CCVD)
Affiliation to multinational organisations

UNI via CSC/ACV

Affiliation to European-level organisations

UNI-EUROPA, ETUC via CSC/ACV

Affiliation to national-level organisations

CSC/ACV

Engagement in sector-related collective bargaining

yes

Type of membership

voluntary

Consultation in sector related matters

yes

Union's domain with regard to sector

overlap

Domain overlap with other unions in sector

yes

Domain overlaps occur with the following unions in the sector

CG/AG, Setca/BBTK, CGSLB/ACLVB

 

2008

‘Active’ union members total (in employment)

n.g.

   
Union members (incl. non-employed), total

239,066

   
 

pls select year

‘Active’ union members in the sector (in employment)

n.g.

   
Union members in the sector, total (incl. non-employed)

n.g.

   
Female membership as a % of total members

57%

Source of sectoral membership figures

Source

Union density - active members

Rough estimate - in case no 'exact' figures are available

   
Sectoral density - active members

Rough estimate - in case no 'exact' figures are available

   
Sectoral domain density - active members

Rough estimate - in case no 'exact' figures are available

   
Union density - total members

n.g.

   
Sectoral density - total members

n.g.

   
Sectoral domain density - total members

n.g.

   
Description of union's domain with regard to sector

In general, blue-collar workers. However, the federation has concluded a mutual exchange agreement with the white-collar unions of the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (ACV/CSC) – namely the Federation of White-Collar Workers and Managers (LBC-NVK) and the National Federation of White-Collar Workers (CNE-GNC). As a result, this sectoral federation also represents the white-collar trade unions the sector. In theory, CGSLB/ACLVB does not cover all companies (for example, those that are state-owned), in practice however, it does cover all companies in the sector, since all companies are private.

Representation of other groups than employees in the sector

Yes, temporary agents

Table 3: Union Fact sheet: General Federation (CG/AC 2)
General Federation (Centrale Générale/Algemene Centrale)
Table 3: Union Fact sheet: General Federation (CG/AC 2)
Affiliation to multinational organisations

UNI via FGTB/ABVV

Affiliation to European-level organisations

UNI-EUROPA, ETUC via FGTB/ABVV

Affiliation to national-level organisations

FGTB/ABVV

Engagement in sector-related collective bargaining

yes

Type of membership

voluntary

Consultation in sector-related matters

yes

Union's domain with regard to sector

sectional overlap

Domain overlap with other unions in sector

yes

Domain overlaps occur with the following unions in the sector

CCAS/CCVD; CGSLB/ACLVB

 

2008

‘Active’ union members total (in employment)

n.g.

   
Union members (incl. non-employed), total

376,768

   
 

pls select year

‘Active’ union members in the sector (in employment)

n.g.

   
Union members in the sector, total (incl. non-employed)

n.g.

   
Female membership as a % of total members

n.g.

Source of sectoral membership figures

Source

Union density - active members

Rough estimate - in case no 'exact' figures are available

   
Sectoral density - active members

Rough estimate - in case no 'exact' figures are available

   
Sectoral domain density - active members

Rough estimate - in case no 'exact' figures are available

   
Union density - total members

n.g.

   
Sectoral density - total members

n.g.

   
Sectoral domain density - total members

n.g.

   
Description of union's domain with regard to sector

Blue-collar workers in the sector.

Representation of other groups than employees in the sector

Yes, temporary agents

Table 4: Union Fact sheet: Union of White-collar, Technical and Executive Employees (SETca/BBTK)
Affiliation to multinational organisations

UNI via FGTB/ABVV

Affiliation to European-level organisations

UNI-EUROPA, ETUC via FGTB

Affiliation to national-level organisations

FGTB/ABVV

Engagement in sector-related collective bargaining

yes

Type of membership

voluntary

Consultation in sector-related matters

yes

Union's domain with regard to sector

sectional overlap

Domain overlap with other unions in sector

yes

Domain overlaps occur with the following unions in the sector

CCAS/CCVD; CGSLB/ACLVB

 

2008

‘Active’ union members total (in employment)

n.g.

   
Union members (incl. non-employed), total

382,291

   
 

pls select year

‘Active’ union members in the sector (in employment)

n.g.

   
Union members in the sector, total (incl. non-employed)

n.g.

   
Female membership as a % of total members

n.g.

Source of sectoral membership figures

Source

Union density - active members

Rough estimate - in case no 'exact' figures are available

   
Sectoral density - active members

Rough estimate - in case no 'exact' figures are available

   
Sectoral domain density - active members

Rough estimate - in case no 'exact' figures are available

   
Union density - total members

n.g.

   
Sectoral density - total members

n.g.

   
Sectoral domain density - total members

n.g.

   
Description of union's domain with regard to sector

White-collar workers in the sector.

Representation of other groups than employees in the sector

Yes, temporary agents

Table 5: Union Fact sheet: Federation of Liberal Trade Unions of Belgium (CGSLB/ACLVB)
Affiliation to multinational organisations

UNI

Affiliation to European-level organisations

UNI-EUROPA, ETUC

Affiliation to national-level organisations

Please give full names (when listing the org. for the first time) and abbreviations.

Engagement in sector-related collective bargaining

yes

Type of membership

voluntary

Consultation in sector-related matters

yes

Union's domain with regard to sector

overlap

Domain overlap with other unions in sector

yes

Domain overlaps occur with the following unions in the sector

CCAS/CCVD; SETca/BBTK; CG/AC

 

2008

‘Active’ union members total (in employment)

n.g.

   
Union members (incl. non-employed), total

265,123

   
 

pls select year

‘Active’ union members in the sector (in employment)

n.g.

   
Union members in the sector, total (incl. non-employed)

n.g.

   
Female membership as a % of total members

n.g.

Source of sectoral membership figures

Source

Union density - active members

Rough estimate - in case no 'exact' figures are available

   
Sectoral density - active members

Rough estimate - in case no 'exact' figures are available

   
Sectoral domain density - active members

Rough estimate - in case no 'exact' figures are available

   
Union density - total members

n.g.

   
Sectoral density - total members

n.g.

   
Sectoral domain density - total members

n.g.

   
Description of union's domain with regard to sector

Blue-collar and white collar workers in the sector. In Theory, CGSLB/ACLVB does not cover all kind of companies (for example, those that are state-owned), in practive however, it covers all companies in the sector since all companies are private.

Representation of other groups than employees in the sector

Yes, temporary agents

2b Data on the employer associations

Table 6: Employers’ organisation: Private Security Association (APEG/BVBO)
Affiliation to multinational organisations

Please give full names (when listing the org. for the first time) and abbreviations.

Affiliation to European-level organisations

The Confederation of European Security Services (CoESS)

Affiliation to national-level organisations

Please give full names (when listing the org. for the first time) and abbreviations.

Engagement in sectoral-related collective bargaining

yes

Consultation in sector-related matters

yes

Type of membership

voluntary

Organisation's domain with regard to sector

congruence

Domain overlap with other organisations in sector

no

Domain overlaps occur with the following organisations

n.g.

  2009
Number of member companies, total

17

Number of employees in member companies, total

12,099

  2009
Number of member companies in sector

17

Number of employees in member companies in sector

12,099

Source of membership figures

Own calculation

Domain density - companies

Rough estimate:

Sectoral density - companies

Very high: 91-100%

Sectoral domain density - companies

Rough estimate:

Domain density - employees

Rough estimate:

Sectoral density - employees

90,0%

Sectoral domain density - employees

Rough estimate:

Description of organisation's domain with regard to sector

All companies in the sector. In Theory, APEG/BVBO does not cover all kind of companies (for example, those that are state-owned) in practice, however, it covers all companies in the sector since all companies are private.

Representation of particular subgroups of enterprises

Yes: cash-in-transit, alarm receiving centres, aviation security, maritime security, static security, mobile security, bodyguarding, event security.

Table 7: Employers’ organisation: The Central Association of Alarm (ACA)
Affiliation to multinational organisations

Please give full names (when listing the org. for the first time) and abbreviations.

Affiliation to European level organisations

The Confederation of European Security Services (CoESS)

Affiliation to national level organisations

Please give full names (when listing the org. for the first time) and abbreviations.

Engagement in sectoral related collective bargaining

yes

Consultation in sector related matters

yes

Type of membership

voluntary

Organisation's domain with regard to sector

sectionalism

Domain overlap with other organisations in sector

no

Domain overlaps occur with the following organisations

n.g.

  2010
Number of member companies, total

11

Number of employees in member companies, total

500

  2010
Number of member companies in sector

11

Number of employees in member companies in sector

500

Source of membership figures

Own calculation

Domain density - companies

100.00%

Sectoral density - companies

100.00%

Sectoral domain density - companies

Rough estimate:

Domain density - employees

100.00%

Sectoral density - employees

100.00%

Sectoral domain density - employees

Rough estimate:

Description of organisation's domain with regard to sector

Companies dealing with installation and maintenance of alarm services (sub-sector 80.2)

3. Inter-associational relationships

 

3a Inter-union relationships

3a.1 Please list all trade unions covered by this study whose domains overlap.

  • CCAS/CCVD, CG/AG, and CGSLB/ACLVB overlap regarding the representation of the blue-collar workers in the Joint Committee 317
  • CCAS/CCVD, Setca/BBTK, and CGSLB/ACLVB overlap regarding the representation of the white-collar workers in the Joint Committee 317

In general, CCAS/CCVD represents blue-collar workers in the sector. However, the federation has concluded a mutual exchange agreement with the white-collar unions of the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (ACV/CSC) – namely the Federation of White-Collar Workers and Managers (LBC-NVK) and the National Federation of White-Collar Workers (CNE-GNC). As a result, CCAS/CCVD also represents the white-collar trade unions the sector.

3a.2 Do rivalries and competition exist among the trade unions, concerning the right to conclude collective agreements and to be consulted in public policy formulation and implementation?

No. All four organisations are recognised as representative and have an equal right to conclude collective agreements and to be consulted by public authorities.

3a.3 If yes, are certain trade unions excluded from these rights?

Not applicable

3b Inter-employer association relationships

3b.1 Please list all employer associations covered by this study whose domains overlap.

In Belgium, the APEG/BVBO is the only employer’s association that is recognised as being representative and consequently, that is allowed to conclude collective labour agreement at sectoral level.

3b.2 Do rivalries and competition exist among the employer associations, concerning the right to conclude collective agreements and to be consulted in public policy formulation and implementation?

The Central Association of Alarm (ACA), representing 11 companies in the sector, including Securitas Alert Services, G4S Secure Monitoring and the Praxis-Group, claims to be part of the national social dialogue in view of the specific features of their area compared to the guard services companies.

The ACA claims:

  • joint action with other employer’s organisations in the sector, to promote the functioning and the development of the sector;
  • to maintain a direct dialogue with the public authorities, working with them to improve people’s security.
  • to be a fully-fledged representative organisation considering the specificity of their activities and also the growing quality requirements with regard to their staff and infrastructure.

Even though it is not yet considered as a fully-fledged representative organisation , the ACA takes part, through and mandated by the APEG-BVBO/ACA, in the national social dialogue. Observers of ACA sit in the APG-BVBO delegation.

3b.3 If yes, are certain employer associations excluded from these rights?

See above

3b.4 Are there large companies or employer associations which refuse to recognise the trade unions and refuse to enter collective bargaining?

No. The law requires that all companies have to pertain to a specific joint committee (according to their main activity) and to be represented in it, at sectoral level, by an employer’ representative organisation. Even if a company is not affiliated to an employers’ organisation, it is obliged to comply with the decisions resulting from the collective bargaining within the joint committees.

4. The system of collective bargaining

4.1. Estimate the sector’s rate of collective bargaining coverage (i.e. the ratio of the number of employees covered by any kind of collective agreement to the total number of employees in the sector).

In principle, 100 % (see point 3b.4).

4.2. Estimate the relative importance of multi-employer agreements and of single-employer agreements as a percentage of the total number of employees covered. (Multi-employer bargaining is defined as being conducted by an employer association on behalf of the employer side. In the case of single-employer bargaining, it is the company or its subunit(s) which is the party to the agreement. This includes the cases where two or more companies jointly negotiate an agreement.)

Multi-employer agreements (coordinated within joint committee 317 relative to private guarding services and surveillance services) are more important since they cover all the companies and the workers in the sector.

4.2.1. Is there a practice of extending multi-employer agreements to employers who are not affiliated to the signatory employer associations?

Yes.

4.2.2. If there is a practice of extending collective agreements, is this practice pervasive or rather limited and exceptional?

Pervasive.

4.3. List all sector-related multi-employer wage agreements* valid in 2008 (or most recent data), including for each agreement information on the signatory parties and the purview of the agreement in terms of branches, types of employees and territory covered.

* Only wage agreements which are (re)negotiated on a reiterated basis.

Table 8: Sector-related multi-employer wage agreements*

Bargaining parties

Purview of the sector-related multi-employer wage agreements

 

Sectoral

Type of employees

Territorial

Joint committee 317: Collective agreement 96329 (9 October 2009) on working and wage conditions (no duration specified)

Yes

Blue collar and white collar workers

national

Joint committee 317: Collective agreement 96328 (9 October 2009) on workers’ position classification (no duration specified)

Yes

Blue collar and white collar workers

national

*The full list of agreements can be found on the website of the Ministry of Employment

4.4. List the sector’s four most important collective agreements (single-employer or multi-employer agreements) valid in 2008 (or most recent data), including for each agreement information on the signatory parties and the purview of the agreement in terms of branches, types of employees and territory covered. Importance is measured in terms of employees covered.

Table 9: Four most important agreements in terms of employees covered*

Bargaining parties

Purview of the agreements

 

Sectoral

Type of employees

Territorial

Joint committee n°317

Collective agreement 99416 (30 March 2010) on early-retirement scheme (duration: till 31 December, 2012)

Yes

Blue collar and white collar workers

national

Joint committee 317

Collective agreement 99281 (1 March 2010) on training for workers at risk (no duration specified)

Yes

Blue collar and white collar workers

national

Joint committee n°317

Collective agreement 96332 (9 October 2009) on working time (no duration specified

Yes

Blue collar and white collar workers

national

*The full list of agreements can be found on the website of the Ministry of Employment

5. Formulation and implementation of sector-specific public policies

5.1. Are the sector’s employer associations and trade unions usually consulted by the authorities in sector-specific matters? If yes, which associations?

All parties belonging to joint committee 317 are officially representative employers and workers organisations. The Ministry of Interior, which licenses and supervises the guarding and private security sector, consults the representative organisations within its own committees, some of which have been established by law (thus complusory consultation) and some others on a voluntary basis:

  • Official committees on training, (several ones), Cash-in-transit (with three subcommittees: general, security boxes and vehicles), and some on specific private security activities;
  • Informal, round-table discussions on private security

5.2. Do tripartite bodies dealing with sector-specific issues exist? If yes, please indicate their domain of activity (for instance, health and safety, equal opportunities, labour market, social security and pensions etc.), their origin (agreement/statutory) and the interest organisations having representatives in them:

Table 10: Sector-specific public policies*

Name of the body and scope of activity

Bipartite/tripartite

Origin: agreement/statutory

Trade unions having representatives (reps)

Employer associations having reps.

Social fund of Joint Committee 317 (Fond de sécurité d’existence du gardiennage/ Fonds voor Bestaanszekerheid van de bewaking, FSEG/FBZB)

Scope: Social security, health, professional training…

bipartite

agreement/statutory**

Yes (see above)

Yes (see above)

Training committee for guarding and private security companies, from the Ministry of Interior

tripartite

statutory

yes (same)

yes (same)

* Sector-specific policies specifically target and affect the sector under consideration.

**Agreement/statutory means the body is set up by collective agreements within a statutory framework of labour law

6. Statutory regulations of representativeness

6a Statutory regulations of representativeness for trade unions

6a.1 In the case of the trade unions, do statutory regulations exist which establish criteria of representativeness which a union must meet, so as to be entitled to conclude collective agreements? If yes, please briefly illustrate these rules and list the organisations which meet them.

To be entitled to conclude collective agreements, unions must meet the criteria of representativeness set out, by law brought into force on 5 December 1968, on collective agreements and joint committees:

  • An organisation will be recognised if it is a cross-industry organisation, organised at national level and with members in the Central Economic Council (CCE/CRB) and the National Labour Council (, CNT/NAR)
  • The organisation must have at least 50,000 members or it must be a professional organisation which is part of the representative cross-industry organisation

In fact, the representativeness of the unions is ultimately determined by the government which nominates the organisation’s members for the Central Economic Council and the National Labour Council.

At present, three national trade unions have representativeness status – FGTB/ABVV, CSC/ACV and CGSLB/ACLVB, as well as their member federations.

6a.2 In the case of the trade unions, do statutory regulations exist which establish criteria of representativeness which a union must meet, so as to be entitled to be consulted in matters of public policy and to participate in tripartite bodies? If yes, please briefly illustrate these rules and list the organisations which meet them.

In general, trade unions meeting the above criteria can be represented in consultative bodies.

6a.3 Are elections for a certain representational body (e.g. works councils) established as criteria for trade union representativeness? If yes, please report the most recent electoral outcome for the sector.

There is no election for the sector. A trade union that is recognised as representative can apply for a mandate in a joint committee. In such cases, the internal representativeness of the organisation for that sector in particular will be examined. In general, the three national representative trade unions – ACV/CSC, ABVV/FGTB and ACLVB/CGSLB – recognise each other’s representativeness in a sector. If they do not, the Minister of Employment and Equal Opportunities will base his or her decision on the results of the national elections for the works councils, which are held every four years.

At company level, the members of the works councils are elected by all the staff members (even if they do not belong to a union). The number of votes will determine the number of seats for each worker’ organisation (Law of 5 March 1999 on social elections). However, a company must have at least 100 workers to have the right to establish a works council.

6b Statutory regulations of representativeness for employer organisations

6b.1 In the case of the employers organisations, do statutory regulations exist which establish criteria of representativeness which an organisation must meet, so as to be entitled to conclude collective agreements? If yes, please briefly illustrate these rules and list the organisations which meet them.

The employers’ organisations that are entitled to conclude collective agreements must respect certain criteria defined in the law of 5 December 1968:

These organisations must be organised at national level and are members of the National Council of Labour and of The Central Economic Council. The Belgian Federation of Employers (Fédération des Entreprises de Belgique/Verbond van Belgische Ondernemingen, FEB/VBO) is the only one to fit the criteria.

However, other organisations may be added in some other cases.

  • The sector organisations, members of the FEB/VBO are also able to conclude collective agreements.
  • A professional organisation which is independent of the Federation of Belgian Employers can be recognised by Royal Decree on the advice of the National Council of Labour. This is the case for APEG.
  • The cross-industry and sector organisations recognised by one of the laws on the organisation of the middle-class (Coordinated laws of 28 May 1979). These organisations are the Union of the Self- Employed (UCM) and the Organisation of the Self-Employed (UNIZO).

6b.2 In the case of the employer’s organisations, do statutory regulations exist which establish criteria of representativeness which an organisation must meet, so as to be entitled to be consulted in matters of public policy and to participate in tripartite bodies? If yes, please briefly illustrate these rules and list the organisations which meet them.

In general, employer’s organisations meeting the above criteria can be represented in consultative bodies.

6b.3 Are elections for a certain representational body established as criteria for the representativeness of employer associations? If yes, please report the most recent outcome for the sector.

No.

7. Commentary

The law of 10 April 1990 regulates the guarding and private security sector on issues such as approval, competencies, professional training. According to the specificity of the sector in parallel with the police forces and the public security, the Ministry of Interior plays the role of supervisor and is also a regulator in the sector. Collective agreements (such as those on wages, working conditions, and training) are mainly negotiated by social partners at sectoral level, in joint committee 317 (private guarding services and surveillance services). All the three main interprofessional workers’ organisations are now part of the social dialogue (CGSLB/ACLBV has also recently begun participating in collective bargaining). On the employers’ side however, the APEG/BVBO is the only employer’s association that is recognised as being representative and consequently, that is allowed to conclude collective labour agreement at sectoral level. Another employers’ association, the ACA, claims to be directly part of the national social dialogue considering the specificity of its activity. At the moment, it participates indirectly through a mandate given to the APEG-BVBO.

Marie Van den broeck,

Institute for Labour Studies,

Université Catholique de Louvain

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