Belgium is widely known for its strong and robust collective bargaining system, with an important role for the sectoral level. Whether you’re working at ING, KBC or BNP Paribas, the same basic rights in terms of working time, wages and benefits will apply to you.
Unfortunately, banks in Belgium are less and less willing to make ambitious agreements in the banking sector. They want to negotiate on the company level, that is for every bank separately. This would be a step back for workers. Sectoral collective agreements ensure equal treatment and fair conditions that company level negotiations cannot deliver.
To make front to this, UNI Europa and its Belgian affiliates have mobilised and invested into strategies to strengthen and develop multi-employer bargaining in the sector. Participants from unions including BBTK-Setca, ACV Puls, CNE, and ACLVB-CGSLB came together on 26 and 27 April in a UNI Europa led workshop to discuss and develop strategies for multi-employer bargaining. During the 2-days event participants explored the power dynamics within the sector, the power resources available to the trade unions, and possible strategies to develop the sectoral level of collective bargaining.
Gareth Murphy from FSU Ireland also participated in the workshop and presented the work of the Irish finance sector in engaging members in union activities and company-level collective bargaining.
This workshop took place in the framework of the EU funded ‘Level-up’ project which focuses on multi-employer bargaining and fostering dialogue and collaboration to strengthen sector collective bargaining.
You can also learn more about the second and third workshops.