Luxembourg: Latest working life developments – Q3 2016

Disputes over sector-level collective bargaining, changes to the bill on parental leave and working time legislation are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Luxembourg in the third quarter of 2016.

Decentralisation of social dialogue, disputes and conflicts

At national level, social dialogue is still slowing down with no national tripartite bargaining on the agenda. National social dialogue is opposed by the Alliance of Employer Confederations in Luxembourg (UEL), which claims that it is too politicised and has too much media coverage and, also, that use of the tripartite negotiations should be limited (MS Word) to extreme situations.

In the cleaning sector, there is a continuing court battle over the recognition of work experience as a professional qualification which would give some of the 9,000 employees in this sector access to the qualified minimum wage.

In the steel sector, the tripartite steel agreement Lux 2016, which provides for investment from ArcelorMittal as well as special measures, is coming to an end. A tripartite meeting at the Ministry of the Economy showed that the differing views on the situation are hampering any renewal of the agreement. As announced in a press release from the Luxembourg Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (LCGB) and an article published by the daily newspaper Luxembourger Wort, further bipartite meetings are planned before the end of 2016. The future of an Arcelor Mittal wire plant is also under threat because of problems with potential takeovers.

The new collective agreement at the Post Luxembourg Group, the country’s largest provider of postal and telecommunications services, creates a third category of employees ‘caught’ between the old and the new collective agreements. During September, the trade unions met Post management to discuss its future.

In the air traffic sector, the announcement by the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure that it will outsource part of the country’s air control to Germany led to protests from representatives of the air controllers. The Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Luxembourg (OGB-L) has also criticised an atmosphere of fear and oppression, as well as the wage freezes at the airport operating company, Lux-Airport.

In the bus sector, OGB-L has complained that different views of peak working times are pushing the trade union to consider industrial action.

Blocked collective agreements at Luxgard II led OGB-L to open a conciliation procedure.

Modification of the working conditions framework

The 1999 PAN (Law Plan d’action national pour l’emploi), which implements employment measures, comes to an end in 2016. The government has adopted a bill (PDF), which changes the organisation of working time and extends the period of legal reference from the current one month to four months if an increase in the workload offers more flexibility to the enterprise. Collective agreements with other reference periods will not be affected. The government has taken this decision as a result of a ‘clash of opinions’ between trade unions and employer organisations. OGB-L, for example, has pointed out that longer working times are not acceptable without an overall reduction in working time and that the law on the working time is not clear and can lead to unpaid overtime .

The government plans to implement the bill on parental leave (PDF) on 11 October. In addition, a law introducing a new system of child allowances has been in force since August. The new measures were criticised by trade unions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) because of negative extra-pay differences compared with the old system. Since 1 September, cross-border workers have been given access to childcare service vouchers until their child reaches the age of 13.

The government has also announced a bill to combat workplace bullying.

Skills, training, and lifelong learning: changes in vocational training

Changes to the 2008 reform on vocational training have been in force since September. The reform aims to improve the organisational framework of vocational training. Changes include the possibility of an annual promotion system, plus the introduction of an intermediate assessment and descriptive sheets for each of the offered professions.

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