Union Agreement Coverage

Similar developments have been observed with regard to the provisions on the extension of collective agreements, which apply in the vast majority of the countries studied. While over the past decade, several adaptations, most often minor, of the legal renewal mechanisms have been made, the basic parameters and functions of the extension provisions have remained unchanged. The remarkable exception made in the United Kingdom, where extensions were abolished in 1980, does not call this general finding into question. The effects of extension provisions on the coverage of collective agreements vary from country to country and cannot always be precisely specified. However, the available evidence shows that the extension provisions do not affect the upward or downward variation in coverage rates in collective bargaining. On the contrary, extension provisions may have helped to stabilize coverage. In Belgium, coverage is high, agreements signed at sector level automatically extend to all persons employed in this sector. In Italy, there is no legislation that generally makes inter-professional agreements compulsory, but the courts have generally interpreted them in this way. This edition examines differences in collective agreement coverage for 75 countries. Collective bargaining on wages and other working conditions between trade unions and employers is an important labour market institution in democratic societies. The coverage and impact of this institution varies over time and from country to country. The figures on the coverage of the negotiations provided in this study relate to the years 2000 and 2001 or to the most recent data available. In principle, there are two possible data sources.

Coverage data may be provided by the negotiating parties. Data from household or labour force surveys may also be available to determine whether the interviewee`s workplace is covered by a collective agreement. However, in several countries there is no type of systematic data collection. To the extent possible, collective bargaining coverage has been estimated by EIRO national centres in these cases. No reliable estimates could be made for Finland, Greece, Ireland and Italy (although in the latter case the coverage rate is often estimated at around 90%). For the United Kingdom, data are only available for Great Britain (i.e. excluding Northern Ireland). Given the information available for 16 of the 20 countries examined, it is striking to note that the coverage of the negotiations within the EU Member States and Norway remains quite high.

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