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Please find below the highlights of the April issue of the Collective Bargaining newsletter with the most important developments at European and member state level over the past month.

  1. European Union: The EU will provide additional financial support to Member States to protect jobs and workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Many businesses are experiencing economic difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and have had to temporarily suspend or substantially reduce their activities and the working hours of their staff. To support employers and to protect workers and the self-employed from losing their jobs or incomes, the European Commission proposed a new temporary instrument called SURE (Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency), to complement national efforts to protect employment. It is expected to be operational by 1 June 2020.
  2. Belgium: The construction union and employers have come to an agreement which makes the rules of social distancing in workplaces a priority. They will also draw up a joint protocol to allow construction activities to resume as early as 4 May 2020.
  3. France: Some 11 million workers are currently temporarily or partially unemployed during the lockdown. With much of France’s economy at a standstill as a result of COVID-19 measures, millions of people are unable to work and 337,000 companies – many in the tourism and leisure sectors – have halted work entirely. France has unveiled a package of measures that offer support to self-employed people and small businesses. For employees who either cannot work at all or who have had their hours drastically cut, ‘chômage partiel’ (partial unemployment) is available.
  4. Norway: A study on the effects of union density found that tax subsidies for Norwegian unions led to ‘substantial increases’ in firm productivity and wages, increases that grew even larger the more productive a firm was or the more bargaining power a union had. Researchers established a correlation between union density and productivity by first looking at how tax subsidies affect union membership.
  5. Sweden: Dozens of medical workers are earning more than double their salary during the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to an existing emergency agreement between the country's medical unions and employers. The pay rise comes under a ‘crisis situation’ agreement that currently applies to around 100 unionised doctors, nurses, and nursing assistants working in intensive care units in Stockholm, according to the Swedish Medical Association (SMA). The deal also offers a 120% ‘crisis compensation’ on top of their existing pay, yielding a 220% pay rise.
  6. Further reading: