A recent survey undertaken by UNI Europa reveals that strengthening of multi-employer collective bargaining is a priority amongst trade unionists in Europe. The results, summarized in a report titled Better together – What trade unionists think of multi-employer bargaining in Europe show a strong recognition of the potential benefits of this approach, including higher wages and improved worker conditions. However, participants also highlighted several challenges faced by multi-employer bargaining in various contexts.
The findings of the report indicate that, while many workers and trade unions perceive multi-employer bargaining as a means to secure better wages and a stronger position for workers, it is facing mounting pressure in certain circumstances. One of the primary challenges stems from the increasing difficulty of reaching agreements, particularly as these agreements tend to be more framework-oriented rather than comprehensive. Additionally, some actors within the industry are beginning to question the necessity of multi-employer agreements all together.
94% of the respondents said they are in favour of strengthening multi-employer bargaining in their sector
Survey participants also identify employers’ reluctance to engage in multi-employer bargaining as a significant obstacle in its development. This unwillingness is often driven by concerns over potential costs and complexities associated with collective bargaining. Furthermore, the lack of supportive legal systems further hampers the progress of multi-employer bargaining initiatives.
Where there is no multi-employer bargaining, this is mostly due to the employers’ unwillingness to negotiate such agreements and the lack of legal system enabling multi-employer agreements.
To address these challenges, trade unionists suggests that concerted efforts are needed to strengthen and sustain multi-employer bargaining systems. This includes raising awareness about the benefits of multi-employer bargaining, encouraging employers to actively participate in such arrangements, and creating enabling legal frameworks that facilitate negotiations. The report also highlights the importance of finding flexible bargained solutions that can be adapted to different contexts and industries.