Actors and institutions - Q2 2014 (EurWORK topical update)

This article presents some of the key developments and research findings on aspects of industrial relations actors and institutions in the EU during the second quarter of 2014. Government changes, mergers and developments in social partner organisations and leadership changes in key bodies are the main focus of this report.

Change of governments across the EU

In June, a new prime minister took office in Finland. Alexander Stubb became leader of the National Coalition Party (NCP) and of the government, and a number of new ministers were appointed following the election of new party leaders by the NCP and the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

In Hungary, the third government formed under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was inaugurated in June. There were no significant changes to the governmental structure except for the considerably enlarged portfolio and upgraded status of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Research and surveys on the social partners

In Lithuania, a survey of public perceptions of trade unions revealed that those who trust trade unions outnumber those who do not (39% as against 41%). Conducted in April by Baltijos Tyrimai (Baltic Surveys), the survey found a drop since 2010 in the proportion of respondents who were indifferent to the issue, but an increase in the proportion of those with strong views (positive and negative) about unions.

In Germany, the Federal Institute for Employment issued a discussion paper about the effects of works councils on labour productivity (235 KB PDF). It found a reduction in productivity for the first five years after a council was established, but that there was a steady and substantial increase in its effect on productivity thereafter. This is seen as evidence that works councils have a positive overall effect on labour productivity.

In Sweden, the magazine Kollega investigated board representation in the five largest trade unions in the industry sector. The results suggest a lack of representativeness: on average, board members were 50 years old, 65% were men and 8% were born abroad – compared to the average among workers in industry of 13% born abroad.

Developments in social partner organisations

Trade union mergers

The Danish Confederation of Professionals (FTF) announced that the ‘Health Cartel’ (a negotiation cartel of unions at hospitals) and the Association of Regional and Local Government Employees’ Organisations (KTO) will formally merge in September 2014 to form a new bargaining cartel. The new alliance will consist of 56 unions representing around 90% of employees (600,000 workers in all) in regions and municipalities.

In Ireland, two teaching unions, (the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland – ASTI) and the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) indicated that they would begin engagement talks on a possible future merger as the current division between the two unions’ memberships is proving to be inefficient.

In June, the Norwegian Cabin Crew Association strengthened its political influence by joining the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO). The union, which organises cabin crew employees in Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), was previously independent.

Trade union cooperation

The eighth congress of the All-Poland Trade Union Alliance (OPZZ) in May was an exceptional one: Piotr Duda, Chair of Solidarity (NSZZ Solidarność) was an official guest at the congress for the first time. This is a sign of of increasing closeness between Polish trade unions, overcoming the historic cleavages between them.

In April, the heads of the ZSSS and the SSSH, the largest trade union confederations in – respectively – Slovenia and Croatia, signed a joint statement ahead of the the European Parliament elections, in which they called for quality jobs, equality and more democracy.

Mergers of employer organisations

In France, the Craftwork Employers’ Association (UPA) and National Union of Professions (UNAPL) merged on 10 June. Craftspersons and small business owners represented by UPA and the liberal professions federated within UNAPL joined forces with the aim of better defending small businesses.

Meanwhile, in Italy, Mauro Lusetti, President of the Alliance of the Italian Cooperatives, an umbrella organisation of the main Italian cooperatives’ organisations, confirmed his intention to continue the process of creating a single association of Italian cooperatives.Polish government agencies coordinate labour law compliance

In May, the Polish National Labour Inspectorate (PIP) and the Office of the Attorney General signed a declaration on coordinating their activities in detecting and prosecuting cases of labour law violations.

Social partner institutional developments

Trade union developments in Austria, Estonia, Romania

In Austria, a contact point for trade union support for undocumented workers was officially launched in June. This new institution, Undok, provides free and anonymous advice in a variety of languages to undocumented workers who cannot legally work in the Austrian labour market.

In Estonia, trade unions in the county of Lääne-Virumaa decided to restore their regional cooperation assembly, which was closed two years ago due to financial difficulties. The aim of the assembly is to encourage cooperation among different trade unions in the region and to ensure a better information flow.

In Romania, the Alliance of Trade Unions in Information and Communications Technology (ANTIC) has been registered with the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and the Elderly on its list of representative trade union (page in Romanian).

The creation of a new trade union in the Romanian mining industry (the Mining and Energy Trade Union) in Rovinari has not yet been finalised. According to one of its leaders, the creation of the union of about 2,700 members in June was wholly legal. Other union leaders contested the decision in court. The mining industry still has an important say in Romania’s trade union movement.

New employer organisations in Estonia, Poland, Romania

In Estonia, the Estonian Family Enterprise Association was formed in May. The aim of the new association is to raise the profile of Estonian entrepreneurs.

In Poland, all four national-level representative employers’ organisations active in Lower Silesia formed a coalition in June to support and promote local entrepreneurship, employment and social dialogue.

A new Romanian employers’ organisation in the banking sector was created at the end of April: the Banking Employers Council of Romania (CPBR). The founders were the Romanian Commercial Bank, BRD – Groupe Société Générale, Raiffeisen and Unicredit Tiriac. On 30 June, ING Bank Romania joined the organisation.

Internal institutional changes

Workers: representative elections and representativeness rules

In Austria, there were federal state-based elections for representatives on the governing bodies of the Chambers of Labour (AK). The Social Democratic Trade Unionists (FSG) won with 57.2% of the vote, followed by the Austrian Workers’ Federation (ÖAAB) with 21%. Over 2.8 million workers were entitled to vote.

In France, an agreement in April adapted the management of joint agricultural organisations to new representativeness rules. The signatories now have to take account of the representativeness of each of the trade union in the management of joint agricultural bodies.

Employers: improving support for SMEs

In Spain, the new Law for the Chambers of Commerce was published in April to improve the efficiency of the services offered by chambers of commerce. It reinforces the role of the chambers in supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), particularly with international issues and competitiveness.

Leadership changes

Table 1: Trade unions

Belgium

Olivier Valentin became the National Secretary of the Federation of Liberal Trade Unions of Belgium. Marie-Hélène Ska became the General Secretary of the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions. Anne Demelenne, General Secretary of the Belgian General Federation of Labour announced her intention not to stand as a candidate for election again.

Czech Republic

Josef Středula became the new President of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions. 

France

Laurent Berger was re-elected almost unanimously as General Secretary of the French Democratic Confederation of Labour during the 48th Confederation Congress (see article in French).

Germany

With 93% of votes, Rainer Hoffmann was elected as the new Chair of the Confederation of German Trade Unions’ (DGB) in the 20th Federal Congress in May. The number of members of DGB’s federal executive was reduced from five to four.

Italy

In May, Susanna Camusso was re-elected as Secretary General of the Italian General Confederation of Labour at the 17th congress of the union.

Lithuania

In May, the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation held its fifth congress and re-elected Artūras Černiauskas as President. In June, the Lithuanian Trade Union ‘Solidarumas’ (one of the three peak trade union organisations) elected Kristina Krupaviciene to the post of Chair.

Luxembourg

In April, the Chamber of Commerce held its Constituent Assembly Plenary, reappointing Michel Wurth as President.

Poland

At its eighth congress in May, the All-Poland Trade Union Alliance re-elected Jan Guz for the third consecutive time as Chair.

United Kingdom

In June, UNISON elected Lucia McKeever as its new President.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) died suddenly on 11 March 2014. The union is currently being led by Acting General Secretary Mick Cash.

Table 2: Employer organisations

Czech Republic

Dagmar Kuchtová was chosen as the new Director General of the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic.

Greece

Theodoros Fessas was elected as the new President of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises at the annual general meeting of the Federation in May. Kiriakos Loufakis was unanimously elected as Chair of the Association of Exporters of Northern Greece at the first meeting of the Association’s new board.

Italy

Mauro Lusetti was elected President of the Alliance of Italian Cooperatives by the General Assembly in June.

Luxembourg

Nicolas Henckes became General Secretary of the Union of Luxembourg Enterprises (UEL) after the departure of Pierre Bley.

Jean-Jacques Rommes, former Director of the Luxembourg Bankers’ Association (ABBL), became Director of UEL. From 1 May, Serge de Cillia replaced Jean-Jacques Romnes as Chief Executive Officer and Head of the Management Board of the ABBL.

Carlo Thelen was elected as General Manager of the Chamber of Commerce. Tom Wirion was elected General Director of the Chamber of Trades, replacing Paul Ensch, who headed the Chamber for 20 years.

Poland

The Polish Craft Association held its annual congress in June. The Chair, Jerzy Bartnik, and the Board received the vote of approval from the congress delegates.   

Spain

Arturo Fernandez was re-elected President of the Business Confederation of the Community of Madrid (CEIM).

UK

The Confederation of British Industry appointed Katja Hall as its new Deputy Director General.

About this article

This article is based mainly on contributions from Eurofound’s network of national correspondents. Further resources on the social partners and other industrial relations actors can be obtained from Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS).

For further information, contact Karel Fric: kfr@eurofound.europa.eu  or Christine Aumayr-Pintar: cau@eurofound.europa.eu

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