In Germany and other European countries, many employees have now returned from their summer vacation. The duration of the vacation also depends on the number of paid vacation granted by the employer. In companies to which a collective agreement applies, employees are much better off on this issue. This is the result of a study published Monday by the umbrella European trade union organization Etuc and which is available to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. In Germany and Croatia, therefore, it is in the EU that the difference between the statutory minimum vacation and vacation days stipulated by collective agreements is greatest – on average, vacation entitlement increases from four to six weeks.
This huge bonus for employees who benefit from collective agreements is explosive. After all, collective bargaining coverage is declining in most European countries, ie the proportion of employees whose companies are covered by such contracts. A controversial EU directive on minimum wages and collective bargaining coverage aims to turn the tide. This would be entirely in the spirit of the Etuc trade union federation: “Too many employees have had to shorten their summer holidays because they still do not benefit from the advantages of collective bargaining”, explains the deputy general secretary of Etuc, Esther Lynch. The study commissioned by the Brussels organization calculates that the European average for collective agreements guarantees three additional days of vacation.
In Germany, 51% of employees work in companies with sectoral or company collective agreements, as shown by a study by the Institute for Employment Research. According to the ETUC, collective bargaining coverage has declined since the turn of the millennium in 22 of the 27 EU countries, including the Federal Republic of Germany. The most dramatic losses were seen in Romania and Greece, where all employees were previously protected by such contracts, but now only one in four has been reformed.
Last fall, the European Commission presented a draft directive aimed at increasing minimum wages and collective bargaining coverage. The proposed law does not prescribe specific wages, but prescribes standards that states must adhere to when setting their minimum wages. It also requires governments to put in place action plans to increase collective bargaining coverage if it is below 70 percent.
CDU politician wants to strengthen unions
For the bill to become law, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, the decision-making body of the Member States, must come to an agreement. In the European Parliament, two so-called rapporteurs are responsible for the directive, including CDU member Dennis Radtke. The former union secretary wants to refine the committee’s already controversial proposal: he wants to enforce that states must fight for not only 70, but even 90 percent of collective bargaining coverage. So far, only Austria, France, Belgium, Finland and Sweden have achieved this. This social ambition angered many friends of Radtke’s party in the CDU / CSU; they accuse him of violating the fundamental principles of the Union. Radtke calls such reviews “breathtaking”.