Industrial Relations Across Europe

Note: The information given below for minimum working age and standard work week applies to full-time employees only. Minimum annual holiday entitlement applies to full-time employees working five days per week.

Austria

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes

  • Collective agreements? Yes, at all levels (covering 80% of working population)
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 47%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes (in companies employing 5+ people)
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes, in practice (but not by law). Little strike activity
  • State mediation on disputes? Special arbitration court for social affairs

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 15
  • Statutory minimum wage? No – rates set through collective agreement.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (50% of employees work 38-38.5 hours/wk).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 25 days (30 after 25 yrs service) + public holidays.

Further details

Almost all large companies, private or state-owned, are unionised. Works councils operate at the enterprise level, and employees are entitled by law to elect one-third of the members of supervisory boards of major companies. Collective agreements covering wages, benefits and working conditions are negotiated exclusively by the OGB with the National Economic Chamber and its associations.

Belarus

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes – but not in practice.
  • Collective agreements? Not freely concluded or effectively enforced.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 80-90% (independent unions strongly discouraged).
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Not in practice.
  • Unions have right to strike? Not in practice. Heavy restrictions on public gatherings.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16 (but 14 with parental consent).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes, but very low.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (but many workers on short-time).

Further details

State-owned enterprises have frequently tried to resist collective bargaining. Prohibitive procedures exist for the registration of all private organisations, including new enterprises and trade unions. The FTUB trade union confederation is now effectively controlled by the KGB.

Belgium

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes (constitution) – no registration required.
  • Collective agreements? Multilevel – within private sector framework.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 60%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes – but employers may pay an indemnity instead of offering reinstatement.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes (except merchant marine, police and magistrates).
  • State mediation on disputes? Civil courts often used to end strikes.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 18 (15-18 year olds may carry out PT work).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes.
  • Standard work week: 38 hours.
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 20 days + public holidays.

Further details

Every other year, the Belgian business federation and unions negotiate a nationwide collective bargaining agreement covering 2.4 million private-sector workers, which establishes the framework for negotiations at plant and branch level. Around 90 percent of Belgian workers are covered by collective bargaining agreements.

Bulgaria

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes.
  • Collective agreements? Yes, but weakly adhered to.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 18% (est).
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes, but may only be resolved through courts – which are very slow.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes (but only when all other forms of dispute resolution have broken down) Strikes banned in key public sector bodies.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16 (18 for dangerous work).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes, but very low.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours.

Further details

The Bulgarian government has signed a pact on economic and social development with social partner organisations. This contains a 13-point programme covering such areas as job growth and taxation.

There are two large trade union confederations, the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria (CITUB) and CL Podkrepa, which between them represent the overwhelming majority of unionised workers.

Croatia

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes
  • Collective agreements? Yes, employers have a duty to bargain in good faith.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 50%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes, but high proportion of workers on fixed-term contracts limits union power.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes.
  • State mediation on disputes? Mediation required before strike activity over new contracts.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 15 (18 for overtime, heavy work and night shifts).
  • Statutory minimum wage? No, but lowest wage effectively set by government.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (maximum of 10 hours overtime/week).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 20 working days (miners 24 working days) + public holidays.

Further details

Workers may only strike at the end of a contract, or in specific circumstances mentioned in the contract. If initial arbitration is not successful, the “Economic and Social Council” (GSV) appoints a mediator. A strike is legal only after submitting to mediation and formally declaring that negotiations are deadlocked. If a strike is found to be illegal, any participant may be dismissed and the union held liable for damages.

The central GSV meets monthly to review labour disputes and is made up of representatives from the government, the unions, and private sector employers. The government has also established an “Office for Social Partnership” to support the work of the GSV.

The Labour Code governs collective bargaining contracts, protection for striking workers, and legal limitations on the ability of employers to conduct “lockouts” during labour disputes. The non-payment of wages continues to be a serious problem.

Cyprus

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes (except police and military).
  • Collective agreements? Yes, but not legally enforceable and limited in the northern zone.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 2% in private sector, 60% in semi-public sector.
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? No.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes (but replacement workers may be hired).

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16 (15 for apprentices).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes, in occupations not covered by collective bargaining and all workers in north of island.
  • Standard work week: 38 hours in winter and 36 hours in summer.

Further details

By law, trade unions and employer confederations are free to organise and bargain collectively throughout Cyprus. This right is observed in practice in the government-controlled areas. Wages are generally subject to indexation. Greek Cypriot collective bargaining agreements are not enforceable.

In the Turkish Cypriot community, wage levels are reviewed several times a year for both private sector and public sector workers.

Czech Republic

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes.
  • Collective agreements? Yes, mainly company agreements.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 14-15%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes, (except certain public employees) but only after mediation.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 15 (14 in some cases).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes.
  • Standard workweek: 40 hours (overtime limited to 8 hours per week).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement:4 weeks (5 weeks for arduous or dangerous occupations) + public holidays.

Further details

Most unions are affiliated to the Czech-Moravian Chamber of Trade Unions (CMKOS). Where no agreement is possible with all trade unions representing workers in an enterprise, employers may conclude an agreement with the union representing the greatest number of workers.

Denmark

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes, including military and police.
  • Collective agreements? Yes – central to economic life (covers 85% of workers).
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 75%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes (except essential services and civil servants)
  • State mediation on disputes? Yes – extensive conciliation and mediation system.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 15 (13 part-time).
  • Statutory minimum wage? No – subject to collective agreements.
  • Standard work week: 37 hours (general level in collective agreements).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: Five weeks (Danish Holiday Act) + public holidays.

Further details

White collar workers are generally subject to the Salaried Employees Act. However, the great majority of salaries, benefits, and working conditions are agreed in negotiations between the various employers’ associations and their union counterparts. Collective agreements range in length from two to four years. If negotiations fail, the National Conciliation Board mediates, and its proposal is voted on by both management and labour. If the proposal is turned down, the government may intervene.

Estonia

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes.
  • Collective agreements? Yes, but only covers 15% of workforce.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 10%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes (Labour Code).
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes (but not public servants).
  • State mediation on disputes? Yes.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 18, but between 15 and 17 with parental consent for normal daywork.
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes – but low.
  • Standard workweek: 40 hours.

Further details

The Labour Code prohibits anti-union discrimination, and employees may go to court to enforce their rights. The law provides for collective bargaining, collective dispute resolution, and shop stewards.

Finland

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes.
  • Collective agreements? Yes – widespread.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 80%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes (except essential services). But strikes are illegal once labour agreement is in force.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16 (younger children may work in certain circumstances).
  • Statutory minimum wage? No – enforced through collective agreement.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (maximum of 250 overtime hours per year).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 24 days (30 under many collective agreements) + public holidays.

Further details

Collective bargaining agreements are usually concluded for between 18 and 36 months. Recent agreements have included multiskilling and flexibility clauses.

France

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes (in constitution).
  • Collective agreements? Yes – multilevel agreements covering 90% of workforce.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 8%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes – and they use it frequently.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16 (but limitations until 18).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes.
  • Standard workweek: 35 hours (overtime limited to 220 hours per year).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 25 days (often extended through collective agreement) + public holidays.

Further details

Works councils must be established in every business that has 50 or more employees. These are subject to elections every 2 years. The institutional role of organised labour in France is far greater than its numerical strength. The government regularly consults union leaders on economic and social issues, and joint works councils play an important role even in industries that are only marginally unionised.

Germany

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes (Basic Law).
  • National/sectoral collective agreement(s)? Yes – covering two-thirds of workforce.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 23%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 15 (but with some exceptions).
  • Statutory minimum wage? No – but protection through collective agreements.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (36 for white-collar workers).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 20 days + public holidays.

Further details

German law has established a system of work councils with broad rights of “codetermination” on some aspects of company policy and practice. In addition, employee representatives sit on the supervisory boards of companies registered in Germany.

Basic wages and working conditions are negotiated at an industry level between trade unions and employer associations. However, some firms (especially in eastern Germany) have refused to join employer associations, or have withdrawn from them and then bargained independently with unions. A number of large firms in the western Lander have withdrawn at least part of their workforce from the jurisdiction of the employers association, complaining of rigidities in the centralised negotiating system.

Greece

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes.
  • Collective agreements? Yes.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 30%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes – after mediation and 24 hrs notice in the private sector.
  • State mediation on disputes? Yes – compulsory arbitration in some cases.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 15 (12 in family businesses).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours in private sector.
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 20 days (22 after 2 years’ service) + public holidays.

Further details

The courts have the power to ban strikes that they find illegal or abusive. Employers are not permitted to lock out workers, or to replace striking workers – although public sector employees under civil mobilisation may be replaced on a temporary basis.

Hungary

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes (Labour Code).
  • Collective agreements? Yes (40% of workers covered by agreements).
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 23%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes (except military and police).

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16 (14-15 year-olds may work for short periods during school holidays).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (8 hours per day).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 20 days (30 after age 44) + public holidays.

Further details

The Labour Code recognises the right of unions to organise and bargain collectively and permits the proliferation of trade unions.

Labour laws permit collective bargaining at the enterprise and industry levels. The National Interest Reconciliation Council, a forum of representatives from employers, employees, and the government, sets the minimum and recommended wage levels in the private sector. Special labour courts enforce employment laws and affected parties may appeal against labour court decisions before the civil court.

Iceland

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes.
  • Collective agreements? Yes – widespread (95% of workers covered).
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 82%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes (except certain public sector workers).
  • State mediation on disputes? State mediation office and labour courts.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16 (though light work at age 14 possible on PT basis).
  • Statutory minimum wage? No – but minima set by legally enforceable collective agreements.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (37 excluding breaks).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 24 days + public holidays.

Further details

Employers are required to withhold union dues (one percent of gross pay) from the pay of all employees, whether or not they are union members. Trade unions and employers periodically negotiate collective bargaining agreements that set specific terms for workers’ pay, hours, and other conditions.

No minimum wage is mandated by law, but the minimum wages negotiated in various collective bargaining agreements apply automatically to all employees in those occupations, whether they are union members or not.

Republic of Ireland

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes
  • Collective agreements? Yes – widespread at company and sectoral level.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 33% in the private sector.
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes (and also against retribution).
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes – but not military or police.
  • State mediation on disputes? Yes.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16 (from 14 for light work in holidays).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes.
  • Standard work week: 39 hours (max 48 hours).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 20 days + public holidays.

Further details

Most basic terms and conditions of employment are determined through collective bargaining in the context of a national economic pact. The Labour Relations Commission, established by the Industrial Relations Act of 1990, provides advice and conciliation services in industrial disputes. The Commission may refer unresolved disputes to the Labour Court, which has the power to investigate disputes, recommend the terms of settlement, engage in conciliation and arbitration, and set up joint committees to regulate conditions of employment and minimum rates of pay for workers in a particular trade or industry.

Italy

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes.
  • Collective agreements? Yes, widespread and generally applicable up to managerial level.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 30%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes – constitutional right, provided essential services maintained.
  • State mediation on disputes? Compulsory cooling-off periods.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 15 (higher if hazardous work).
  • Statutory minimum wage? No – set largely by sectoral collective agreements.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (36-38 by collective agreement).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: four weeks (two consecutively) + public holidays.

Further details

Although it is lawful to strike in order to pressure employers to conclude a collective agreement (after it expires) or in support of proposed political reforms, a strike must not threaten the ‘constitutional order’.

Latvia

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes (except military).
  • Collective agreements? Yes, company and sector level.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 20%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes, no limits imposed by law but very infrequent strike activity.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 15 (13 with parents’ permission outside school hours). No overtime/nightwork allowed for those under 18
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes – but below subsistence level.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours.
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 20 days + public holidays.

Further details

All trade unions must be registered with the Ministry of Justice. Employers must not refuse to enter into negotiations for a collective agreement. A number of mechanisms exist to resolve disputes through conciliation and arbitration.

Lithuania

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes.
  • Collective agreements? Subject to collective agreement law. The few agreements that exist are mainly at workplace level.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 10%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes, but little in practice.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes (but not public sector workers in essential services).
  • State mediation on disputes? No special labour courts.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16 (14 with parental permission to carry out light work).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes – but at subsistence level.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (overtime maximum of 120 hours per year).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 28 calendar days (up to 58 calendar days for jobs involving stress or dangerous working conditions) +public holidays.

Further details

A national tripartite council is the principal forum for employers, trade unions and government to meet and discuss draft employment legislation and economic trends. In order to be registered, a union must have at least 30 members in large enterprises, or have a membership of one-fifth of all employees in small enterprises.

Luxembourg

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes
  • Collective agreements? Yes.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 50%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes, but no reinstatement right.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes (except in essential services), but only after conciliation.
  • State mediation on disputes? Through labour tribunals.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16 (but special protection to age 18).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes – but varies according to age and dependants.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (max of 10 hours a day).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 25 working days + public holidays. Disabled workers are entitled to 6 extra days’ leave each year.

Further details

Collective bargaining is conducted mainly through periodic negotiations between centralised organisations of unions and employers. Enterprises having 15 or more employees must elect worker representatives. Enterprises with over 150 employees must form joint works councils composed of equal numbers of management and employee representatives. In enterprises with more than 1,000 employees, one-third of the membership of the supervisory boards of directors must be employee representatives.

Before trade unions may call a strike, the National Conciliation Office must certify that all opportunities for conciliation have been explored.

Malta

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes (guaranteed under the constitution).
  • Collective agreements? Yes.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 63%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes (except police and armed services).
  • State mediation on disputes? Yes – compulsory arbitration may be imposed by authorities.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16.
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes (with mandatory annual bonus).
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (but 43-45 in some sectors).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 5 working weeks + 4 days and public holidays.

Further details

The Council for Economic and Social Development is a tripartite advisory body through which the social partners may express their views to government. A system of wage councils regulate working time in certain low-paying industries such as woodworking, textiles and hospitality.

Moldova

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes, (central union monopoly).
  • Collective agreements? Yes, principally at enterprise level.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 40%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes (except essential services), but strict conditions apply and two-thirds of workers must agree through a secret ballot.
  • State mediation on disputes? Workplace arbitration and court of appeals.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 18 (those aged 16-18 may work under strict limitations, and those under 16 with written permission of parents).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes – different for state and private sector. Very low rates.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (two days off per week but one day in exceptional circumstances).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 28 calendar days + public holidays.

Further details

The Trade Union Law (2000) controls the operation of trade unions. Some groups of workers have tried to establish independent trade unions – but these have often failed. Most labour disputes are settled through arbitration committees.

Wages are set through a tripartite negotiation process involving government, employers, and unions. The three parties meet and negotiate national minimum wages for each principal industry sector.

The Netherlands

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes.
  • Collective agreements? Yes – covering around 85% of workforce.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 25%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes – except civil servants.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16 (but limited to 8 hours a week if still at school).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes (but collective agreements set higher rates).
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (but 38 hours is the general norm).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 4 weeks + public holidays.

Further details

A social partnership arrangement has evolved between the government, private employers’ organisations, and trade unions. This involves all three participants in negotiating guidelines for collective bargaining agreements which, once reached in a particular industry, are extended by law to cover the entire sector. Such generally binding agreements cover most Dutch workers.

Norway

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes.
  • Collective agreements? Yes – widespread and effective.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 55%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes – but compulsory mediation or arbitration may be imposed.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 18 (those aged 13-18 may work part-time on light work).
  • Statutory minimum wage? No – but regulated largely by collective agreements.
  • Standard work week: 37.5 hours.
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 25 days (31 for those aged 61+) + public holidays.

Further details

The Workers’ Protection and Working Environment Act generally assures good working conditions. Environmental committees must be established in all enterprises with 50 or more employees.

Poland

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes.
  • Collective agreements? Yes, mainly at company level.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 14% (concentrated in former state enterprises).
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes, but not very effective.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes (except in essential services).

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 15 if it includes vocational training (limitations until age 18).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes, but very low and poorly enforced.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (8 hours per day).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 20 days (up to 10 years’ service), 26 days (over 10 years’ service), + public holidays.

Further details

A national tripartite Commission establishes a framework for collective bargaining each year. The number of unions has remained steady during recent years, although membership appears to be declining. All trade unions must be registered with the courts. A lengthy and complicated procedure must be followed before a strike may be called. However, the threshold for a strike vote is only 25% of the affected workforce.

Portugal

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes.
  • Collective agreements? Yes – widespread at all levels.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 30%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes, and lockouts are illegal.
  • State mediation on disputes? Yes – for lengthy disputes.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes (includes 13th and 14th month bonus).
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (8 hours per day).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 25 days (reduced for work absence to 22) + public holidays

Further details

Employee rights are subject to a comprehensive labour code. When collective negotiations fail, the government may appoint a mediator, but only with the agreement of the parties. Five days notice must be given before a strike may occur in the private sector. If a union calls a prolonged strike, the government may order the strike to be suspended for a certain period. During strikes, minimum essential services must be maintained.

Romania

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes – in the private sector.
  • Collective agreements? Yes – collective bargaining principally in the country’s large public sector.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 40%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes, but limited.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes (except essential services). Subject to collective labour disputes law requiring notice periods and exhaustion of mediation.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16 (but 15 with parental consent if employed in certain fields).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes, but very low. Minima also set for different sectors.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (Labour Code).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 21 days (31 days if performing very hazardous work) + public holidays.

Further details

Tripartite negotiations have resulted in a national labour accord. Arbitration panels exist to resolve industrial disputes, but they are often bypassed by unions. 48 hours’ notice must be given before a strike may go ahead. A court may rule a strike illegal and when they do so, employers may claim damages from the strike’s organisers.

Russia

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes, but limited by FNPR Confederation
  • Collective agreements? Yes – only one agreement permitted per enterprise. Labour code provides right for employees to request collective agreements.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 50% (less than 10% in independent trade unions).
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes, but it is not enforced and reprisals are commonplace.
  • Unions have right to strike? In practice very limited.
  • State mediation in disputes: A labour arbitration court is in operation for the Moscow district.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age:16 (with limitations to age 18).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes, but largely used to calculate state benefits.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours.
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement (FT employees): 28 calendar days after 6 months’ service + public holidays.

Further details

Registration procedures for unions are governed by the Law on Trade Unions, which specifies that registration requires a simple notification and submission of documents. Regional departments of justice throughout Russia have often ignored the procedures set out by this law and refused to register new unions by requiring changes in charter documents or confirmation of attendance at founding conferences. Such practices have prevented the formation of new unions or the re-registration of existing ones. This situation has been complicated by procedures set out in the Labour Code.

Less than 20% of enterprises have registered the existence of a collective agreement, although the FNPR claims that 80% are covered. Wage arrears continue to be a serious problem in many industries.

Slovakia

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes (except armed services).
  • Collective agreements? Yes (mainly sectoral bargaining).
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 10%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes, but after giving due notice.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 15, but children under 16 may only work for up to 30 hours per week.
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes – but fairly low.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours.
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 4 weeks + public holidays.

Further details

Strike activity may only take place when collective negotiations break down or in support of other workers on strike. Due notice must be given and a list of participants on the strike committee provided to employers affected by industrial action.

Slovenia

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes (except police and military).
  • Collective agreements? Yes, very extensive.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 35%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes (but limited in public sector).State mediation on disputes? No, handled initially by district administrative courts.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 15
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours.
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 20 days + public holidays.

Further details

In the private sector, wages and working conditions are agreed through a general collective agreement between the labor unions and the Chamber of Economy. Sectoral agreements also cover almost all parts of the economy.The Economic and Social Council, comprised of government officials, employers, and union representatives, is responsible for negotiating public sector wages, collective bargaining rules, and principal changes in employment law

Spain

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes, except military and judge.
  • Collective agreements? Yes, 85% coverage.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 15%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes, upon giving 5 days’ notice.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16 (18 for overtime, night work and employment in hazardous environments).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes, but quite low.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (Maximum of 80 hours overtime per year).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 30 calendar days + public holidays.

Further details

The right to organise and bargain collectively was established by the 1980 Workers’ Statute. The statutory minimum wage is revised every year in line with with the consumer price index.

Sweden

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes.
  • Collective agreements? Yes – widespread.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 80%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes. Employers also have right to ‘lock out’.
  • State mediation in disputes? Available through the National Mediation Office.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16 (those under 18 may only work during the day and under close supervision).
  • Statutory minimum wage? No, non-union establishments generally follow rates in sectoral agreements.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours (but fixed by collective agreement).
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 25 days (5 days per year may be banked over 5 years) + public holidays.

Further details

Labour and management, each represented by a national sectoral organisation, negotiate framework agreements every two to three years. There are also an increasing number of company level agreements.

Switzerland

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes.
  • Collective agreements? Yes (covering 50% of workers).
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 25%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes, and generally respected.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes (except in certain public sector occupations). There is very little strike activity.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 15 (but children aged 13-14 may work for short periods).
  • Statutory minimum wage? No – largely set by collective agreement.
  • Standard work week (FT employees]: 40-45 hours.
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 20 days (25 if under 20 yrs old) +public holidays.

Further details

The right to strike is legally recognised, but the inclusion of no-strike clauses in collective agreements has meant that generally less than ten strikes take place each year.

Ukraine

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes (but unions must register through a complex procedure).
  • Collective agreements? Yes, national agreements at a sectoral level.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 66%
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Limited.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes, but highly circumscribed and strikes must be ‘legal’.
  • State mediation on disputes?: Yes.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16 (15 for certain non-hazardous jobs, but only with the consent of a parent).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes, but close to subsistence level.
  • Standard work week: 40 hours.
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 24 calendar days + public holidays.

Further details

Joint worker-management commissions resolve problems with wage rates and other terms and conditions. The national mediation and reconciliation service normally intervenes to resolve labour disputes. For a strike to be valid, it must be voted for by at least two-thirds of the workers subject to it.

United Kingdom

Industrial relations climate

  • Freedom of association guaranteed by law/constitution? Yes (except armed services).
  • Collective agreements? Yes – almost wholly at plant/company level in private sector.
  • Proportion of workforce in trade unions: 26% (17% in private sector).
  • Legal protection from discrimination against union members? Yes.
  • Unions have right to strike? Yes, if official.
  • State mediation on disputes? Yes.

Legal employment framework

  • Minimum working age: 16 (in industrial enterprises).
  • Statutory minimum wage? Yes.
  • Standard work week: Normally 40 hours – but individuals may opt to work in excess of 48 hours a week.
  • Minimum annual holiday entitlement: 20 days + public holidays (entitlement being phased in).

Further details

Collective bargaining covers approximately 30 percent of the work force. Unions enjoy obligatory recognition under the Employment Relations Act 1999. Although the law encourages voluntary agreements between employers and unions, the Central Arbitration Committee may, if necessary, impose a legally binding procedure for bargaining about pay, hours, and holidays.

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