Democracy at work, pay and working life

Quality jobs have been identified as a policy priority for the European Union on several occasions. The goal is not only about getting people into employment; these jobs should also be feasible and safe, they should increase the competences of the employee, and they should provide enough income. They should, in other words, be good-quality jobs. Much thinking has gone into seeking ways to improve the quality of jobs.  Countries have introduced minimum wages, regulated working times, limited precarious employment, and much more.

Notwithstanding these efforts, recent ETUI research has shown that the overall job quality in the EU has seen a deterioration in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis, despite the modest recovery which followed (Piasna 2017). Interestingly, this report also identified where one can expect to find the best-quality jobs: where there is real democracy at work. In countries where employees have access to collective interest representation (such as a works council, a trade union or a similar institution), workers are much more likely to havea high-quality job. This can be seen in the limitation of physical risk factors (noise, danger, chemicals), and better career prospects, job autonomy, and wages. To illustrate just one aspect, as can be seen in Figure 4.9, where employees have better collective interest representation, wages tend to be higher. See also the outcomes in terms of health and safety protection (Fig 4.12).

more information in Benchmarking Working Europe 2019 - Chapter 4 Democracy at work