Employers must come back to the bargaining table. Their escape from collective bargaining is costing workers and society heavily.
DGB figures show that employers escaping from collective bargaining costs the German state and its workers billions that could have been invested in infrastructure, education and social security.
The annual losses are:
- Loss of purchasing power for the workers: 35.0 billion EUR
- Social insurance, reduced payments to the state: 24.8 billion EUR
- Taxes to the federal state, Länder and municipalities 14.9 billion EUR.
IndustriAll Europe’s ‘Together at Work’ campaign for collective bargaining takes a close look at the situation in Germany in the Political Briefing. The average rate of workers that are covered by a collective agreement is 56%. Since the 1990s, there has been a tendency of employers to escape collective agreements, as many of them either left their employers’ association or changed their membership to one not bound by an agreement.
The major German industrial unions, such as IG Metall and IG BCE, are working to strengthen collective bargaining by strengthening the power of unionisation. Experiences with this approach have proven positive. Companies without a collective agreement were led to reach an agreement (as a platform) and/or pushed to join the employers’ association. Those companies wishing to leave were retained in the employers’ association.
Germany is only one of the many countries in Europe that are confronted with this situation. Through the ‘Together at Work’ campaign, industriAll Europe shows how, over the past decades, collective bargaining has been under pressure in most European states, leading to an increase in low-paid and precarious work. We are showing the effects of the weakening of collective bargaining in different countries on the interactive map on our campaign website. We also give workers the floor to speak about the benefits of collective bargaining for them through short testimonial videos, like the one of Maximo from Spain.
“It is unacceptable that workers and the entire society suffer losses of billions of euro each year, due to employers’ escape from collective bargaining” said Luc Triangle, General Secretary of industriAll Europe. “Employers can no longer refuse to sit at the negotiating table. They must shoulder their responsibility and acknowledge that collective bargaining can also benefit companies, by creating a level playing field which makes companies and economies more stable.”
About the campaign
The objective of industriAll Europe’s collective bargaining campaign is to demonstrate the positive impact of collective bargaining, underpinned by strong unions, in delivering a better life for workers. It consists of 7 targeted campaigns, each lasting one month. The current ‘Workers Campaign’ runs from 14th October – 15th November.