New publication: Collective bargaining for European service workers in the twenty-first century: a snapshot

Tuesday 27 April 2021

UNI Europa has published a new report, titled Collective bargaining for European service workers in the twenty-first century: a snapshot. It provides key insights into the current state of collective bargaining in the services sectors in Europe as well as insights into how unions can strengthen it.

The cost of allowing collective bargaining to be suppressed is assessed. This manifests itself in multiple ways but we focus on three: impact on wages, on tax and on social security contributions. The figures are stark and reveal that, within the services sectors, workers are missing out on €25 billion per year in lost wages and public revenue is down a combined €28 billion per year in lost tax and social security contributions. Given current concerns about reinvigorating the economy and shoring up public budgets in the wake of the crisis, expanding collective bargaining would be a key part of the answer.

Sectoral collective bargaining has long been known to be the most effective route to decent pay and working conditions for workers. However, service sector unions are facing major challenges in defending, extending and (re)building sectoral collective bargaining. This report builds upon existing knowledge by bringing together three strands of original research conducted by UNI Europa (with support from the ETUI). The objective is to provide a focused snapshot of the current state of collective bargaining for European service workers.

This report emphasises the fact that there will be no silver bullet to address the collective bargaining challenges that we face across Europe. The attacks that our affiliated unions have endured over an extended period have come on several fronts. In addition, unions in different countries start from different points in strengthening their bargaining arrangements, as the companion report ‘Collective bargaining systems in Europe – some stylised facts’ charts out in more detail.

Read the full report in English, French and German.